Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Rep. [crscore]Tom Price[/crscore] of Georgia – the chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on the Budget – are opting not to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget, saying inviting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan would not be a productive use of their time.
The president is slated to unveil his final budget request, which is expected to increase government spending, next Tuesday. Republican lawmakers said they will focus on their own proposal, criticising the commander in chief’s past budgets as being detrimental to the economy.
“Nothing in the president’s prior budgets – none of which have ever balanced – has shown that the Obama Administration has any real interest in actually solving our fiscal challenges or saving critical programs like Medicare and Social Security from insolvency,” Price said in a joint statement. “Rather than spend time on a proposal that, if anything like this administration’s previous budgets, will double down on the same failed policies that have led to the worst economic recovery in modern times, Congress should continue our work on building a budget that balances and that will foster a healthy economy.”
The administration did not take well to the snub. White House press secretary Josh Earnest slammed the move at a press briefing Friday, saying they are not living up to the party’s promise to restore regular order to the legislative process.
“I guess the future is pretty dim if you have Republicans in Congress unwilling to even talk about the budget with the White House,” he said. “We do see that the Republicans are eager to leap to the defense of the world energy, but they are not really willing to have a serious, detailed conversation about our country’s budget priorities.”
Earnest went on to take a swing at GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump while denouncing the budget leaders’ unexpected decision not to hold the hearings.
“It says a lot of things I think. It certainly does raise some questions about how serious Republicans are about governing the country,” he continued. “It also raises some questions about how confident they are in the concert arguments that they could make about the budget. Maybe they are taking the Donald Trump approach to debates about the budget. They are just not going to show up.”
Republican criticisms of the president’s economic policies have increased in the wake of the national debt exceeding $19 trillion last week.
“It appears the president’s final budget will continue to focus on new spending proposals instead of confronting our government’s massive overspending and debt,” Enzi said. “It is clear that this president will not put forth the budget effort that our times and our country require.”
Obama’s proposal will almost certainly fail to pass Congress in its current form.
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