Last week the Senate rejected motions to proceed to four budget proposals. Like this week’s scheduled House vote on the debt limit, the votes were largely symbolic and expected to fail. The Senate considered budgets proposed by President Obama and House Republicans, as well as balanced budget proposals offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
During the debate, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) criticized the decision of Democrats to vote on competing proposals without first offering an alternative reported by the Senate Budget Committee. His complaint is understandable; the Democrats’ refusal to offer a budget allows them to oppose GOP proposals without supporting anything themselves. If the Senate fails to pass a budget resolution for the second year in a row, it will also make it difficult to engage the public on the policy choices that are at stake.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) referenced the ongoing Biden negotiations and said, “It makes no sense for us to go to a budget markup at this moment that would simply be a partisan markup when bipartisan efforts are underway.”
On the other side of the Capitol, the House has completed its work on a budget resolution and continues to make progress on appropriations bills.
The House Appropriations Committee approved subcommittee allocations and reported the first two FY 2012 appropriations bills: Homeland Security and Military Construction/ Veterans Affairs. Both bills are expected to be considered on the House floor this week. The House subcommittee last week approved the Agriculture appropriations bill, which is scheduled to be considered by the full committee this week.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to consider any of the FY 2012 bills.