Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray confirmed Friday that the Senate will not move a fiscal 2015 budget resolution even as House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan began meetings with fellow Republicans aimed at crafting a House tax and spending blueprint for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.
Murray, D-Wash., said no new budget resolution is needed, however, because the budget deal (PL 113-67) Congress approved in December already sets the discretionary spending limit for the coming year.
Murray said that with the appropriations committees already working on fiscal 2015 spending bills based on the budget agreement, “we should work together to build on our two-year bipartisan budget, not create more uncertainty for families and businesses by immediately re-litigating it.”
Congress in that agreement reduced the discretionary spending cuts required under sequester by raising the discretionary caps to $1.012 trillion in fiscal 2014 and $1.014 trillion in fiscal 2015.
Ryan, R-Wis., has yet to confirm he will mark up a budget, but his staff and other lawmakers say he intends to do so despite concerns among some in the GOP that a budget could give Democrats election-year fodder.
“I haven’t even seen the president’s budget and baseline yet,” Ryan said of the potential for his own budget. The White House budget will be released on Tuesday.
In recent years, both parties have used budget proposals or the lack of them to attack one another over fiscal policies. Democrats have criticized Ryan’s proposals for his proposed deep cutbacks in entitlements, and Democrats ran hard against the Ryan budget in the 2012 elections. Republicans, meantime, have pounded Senate Democrats for failing to adopt a budget in recent years.
Some in the GOP rank-and-file members are worried another budget resolution this year would make them vulnerable in November. Others say a budget resolution is unnecessary given the budget deal.
Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla., said some lawmakers “fear, that you put yourself in a position that you might not be able to defend at the polls” by backing a budget.
House Republican Policy Chairman James Lankford of Oklahoma argues in favor of passing a plan.
“It’s the right thing to do, it’s a statutory requirement, we should still go through the process,” he said. “Even if we have only the discretionary number for next year, it’s still significant to look at the long term.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.