Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

Reid Trying to Beat GOP at Own Game With Budget

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Regular order is totally awesome and the best example of a working Congress … until it’s not.

That was the lesson from the Senate on Monday, as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called on Republicans yet again to name conferees to a panel to merge the House and Senate budgets. As we wrote back in April when we got word of negotiations between Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., the whole question of whether to set up a conference committee has the GOP in a pickle:

“Republicans wary of proceeding to conference are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. For years, Senate Republicans had been bemoaning the fact that Senate Democrats had not done a budget. Now that they’ve done one, attempting to block an effort to reconcile the House and Senate budgets could look hypocritical at worst and politically miscalculated at best.”

Republicans got four years worth of demogoguing on a lack of a Senate budget and were quite successful at it. They forced Democrats’ hands on something they previously had felt indifferent to and hadn’t trusted their former chairman to shepherd through committee. Now, smelling legislative blood in the water, Democrats are trying to beat the GOP at their own game.

The entire Democratic argument can be summed up in one sentence from Reid’s floor opener: “Why are my Republican colleagues so afraid?” And with nothing much to do this work period before Memorial Day, they’ll probably keep asking.

“The Republicans longed for the days of regular order. We know because they told us so… But still the House has refused to… conference with us,” Reid said Monday. “Since they got what they claimed they wanted, their interest in regular order has not just waned, it disappeared. They don’t want to go to conference as we would under regular order that they said they wanted. They don’t even want to name conferees.”

Reid’s gambit, however, fell a bit flat given that no Republicans bothered to show up at the Senate’s opening to object to his request. Reid, as is customary, withdrew the proposal until someone in the opposing party was there to register their disapproval.

Of course, Reid’s overall premise was that Congress should use a budget committee to replace the across-the-board cuts implemented through sequestration, something even Democratic aides concede would never happen. The likelihood that a budget conference committee actually would produce a mutually agreed upon framework are about as good as the Cubs winning the World Series this year. And most staffers concede that short of a “grand bargain” negotiated with the White House as one of the parties, sequestration is here to stay, too (unless, of course, you’re a wealthy business traveler).

“There’s a better chance that Marco Rubio and Jay-Z will go on a concert tour this summer than there is [for] a conference agreement between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray,” a Senate aide told us recently.

Given the odds, why is Reid still using the floor to champion another failed, bipartisan venture? Well, it’s good messaging for him. The beat-up-on-Paul-Ryan card has been one of the trumps in the deck since Senate Democrats launched their Policy Communications Center in 2011.

“We know the two sides won’t agree on every aspect of the budget. We know finding common ground won’t be easy. But we can get it done,” Reid said Monday. “We used to do it until we’ve been stopped from doing everything by a tea-party-driven House of Representatives.”

Cue images of granny being pushed off the cliff.

Comments (50)

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  1. GNH

    May 6, 2013
    6:09 p.m.

    Harry, they are not afraid, they are cautious you lousy pudknocker.

  2. Chaz22

    May 8, 2013
    12:44 a.m.

    I don’t get it—I thought Ryan and Patty Murray HAVE been seeing quite a bit of each-other . I read it so maybe they gave up when their efforts weren’t appreciated.
    Just what is their problem ?
    Ryan has flown the economics coup temperarily at least , to be here, there and everywhere giving speeches about immigration, adoption for gay couples, GOP rejuvenation and anything else on the current agenda . I hope he doesn’t forget the budget battle and that he saves some time for that .
    For those liberals who want to cut him off at the knees -he isn’t about to disappear, and in spite of what the leftist rats of journalism etc. are saying and wishing , he is still “the man ” with his fellow Republicans . Saying that they have snobbed him is wishful thinking and not just funny, but ludicrous . In three days he has received three calls from the House asking for his opinion. And so on .
    And attend to the budget ! ( s ). Talk about “funny” can anyone explain to us why that’s not happening ?

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