CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
April 18, 2012 – 11:04 p.m.
GOP Senators to Push Own Budgets
By Kerry Young and Niels Lesniewski, CQ Staff
Senate Republicans will try to bring budget resolutions to the floor even after a “phantom markup” of a proposed Democratic plan produced only partisan invective without any votes.
“I intend to take my alternative budget to the Senate floor, and at least hopefully have a debate then,”
Toomey and other Republicans are hoping for a repeat of last year, when the Senate voted on his fiscal 2012 budget plan and House Budget Chairman
Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee made that point repeatedly before and during the unconventional markup Chairman
Instead, Conrad said, he would like his plan to be part of the difficult negotiations on spending and taxes expected to take place after the November elections.
“Many have suggested we will not be able to reach conclusions until after the election,” Conrad said. “I wish that weren’t the case, but it probably is.”
Several Republicans and Democrats on the committee joined Conrad in calling for at least a deep examination of spending and tax plans in the months before Election Day.
But for Republicans, the meeting also provided a forum to criticize Reid and the Obama administration while heaping praise on Conrad for holding the meeting and saying Reid had stymied his attempt to offer a budget.
“His leadership lowered the boom,” Sen.
He waved off questions, saying, “We have to go to our phantom markup.”
When the meeting ended, the GOP members surrounded Conrad and congratulated him, shaking his hand and patting him on the back.
Republicans face tough challenges getting a vote on a budget resolution as the minority party in the Senate. Still, they will seek to take advantage of the special status that budget resolutions enjoy in the chamber.
In theory, any senator who gains control of the floor can make a filibuster-proof motion to proceed to any budget resolution pending on the Senate calendar. That’s because all pending budget resolutions are automatically discharged if the Senate Budget Committee does not complete a markup of its own blueprint by April 1.
GOP Senators to Push Own Budgets
By longstanding custom, however, the Senate majority leader sets the chamber’s agenda each day, allowing Reid a chance to thwart any GOP efforts to bring up a budget resolution. If one should somehow get by Reid, Democrats could seek to muster the votes to turn it back. Otherwise, consideration of a budget resolution may trigger what is known as a vote-a-rama, where dozens of amendments are allowed thanks to special rules governing consideration of budget resolutions. Democrat
The prospect for Senate votes on budget plans in coming months may depend on how strongly Senate Minority Leader
That would leave Reid with a political calculation that will come as the presidential campaigns in this election year are increasingly focused on sharp differences on taxes and spending priorities. Democrats may believe they can gain some political edge by publicly airing debate on GOP spending plans that would push deep cuts in spending without raising revenue. Toomey, for example, is seeking to roll back non-defense discretionary spending — or most of the federal government’s operating expenses, outside of the Pentagon’s costs — to fiscal 2006 levels.
McConnell has said he will find a way to bring budget plans to the floor, telling reporters in February, “We will, of course, at some point have votes on budgets. . . . I think the Senate ought to be following the law and attempting to pass a budget, and we’ll have those votes in one way or another as the year moves along.”
The Senate in May 2011 rejected, 42-55, a motion to proceed to Toomey’s fiscal 2012 budget plan. Three fellow Republicans —
Toomey said his alternative budget plan (
Toomey’s budget would include provisions of the plan (
Conrad’s proposal is based on the framework put forward by the Simpson-Bowles Commission, led by Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a former Republican senator. Conrad was a member of that commission.
His plan includes an overhaul of the tax code while raising revenue, as well as additional changes to entitlement programs.
On taxes, the plan would consolidate six tax brackets into three set at 12, 22 and 28 percent. It would set the corporate tax rate at 28 percent and repeal the alternative minimum tax.
The proposal would overhaul Medicare and Social Security and cut certain agricultural subsidies. It also would make changes to military and civil retirement systems.
Paul M. Krawzak and Emily Holden contributed to this story.