Jun 19 2013
Murray Urges Senate Republican Leadership to Stop Blocking Bipartisan Budget Conference; Criticizes Republican “Delaying Tactics”
Today, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging Senate Republican leadership to stop blocking a bipartisan budget conference and allow the House and Senate to engage in formal negotiations. Chairman Murray asked unanimous consent to move to conference, marking the 14th time Democrats have requested to move to conference in the 88 days since the Senate Budget passed, and was blocked by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Murray criticized Senate Republicans’ changing excuses for blocking conference, including their recent effort to stall negotiations by focusing on a thirty-year budget outlook. Murray noted that many Senate Republicans have spoken out against their leadership’s Tea Party-backed strategy of obstructing a budget conference.
Key excerpts from Murray’s floor speech:
“…Senate Democrats have now come to the floor 13 times and requested unanimous consent to move to bipartisan budget negotiations with the House. We are ready to get to work. We’ve been ready for 88 days now, which is how long it’s been since the Senate Budget passed.”
“Now that Republicans have gotten exactly what they wished for, they seem to be running as quickly as they can in the other direction. And they have offered up excuse after excuse after excuse.”
“…in what seems to be the latest delaying tactic, some Republicans are saying that before we can work to solve short-term problems, we first need to agree on the budget outlook thirty years down the road. M. President—enough is enough.”
“… the American people shouldn’t have to worry that the government is going to lurch into another crisis that’s been manufactured by this Congress. It just doesn’t need to happen.”
Full text of Senator Murray’s speech:
“M. President, Senate Democrats have now come to the floor 13 times and requested unanimous consent to move to bipartisan budget negotiations with the House.
“We are ready to get to work. We’ve been ready for 88 days now, which is how long it’s been since the Senate Budget passed.
“Back in March, we assumed that once the two chambers passed their budgets Republicans would be eager to join us in a formal budget conference since they had spent years talking about the need to return to regular order. But instead, M. President, we’ve seen delay after delay.
“Now that Republicans have gotten exactly what they wished for, they seem to be running as quickly as they can in the other direction. And they have offered up excuse after excuse after excuse.
“First, they said they wanted a “framework” before they would start a conference—even though a framework is exactly what a budget is. In other words, they wanted to negotiate behind closed doors when we should be negotiating in a conference.
“Then, they said they wouldn’t allow us to go to conference unless we guaranteed the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations would be protected from paying a penny more in taxes. Many Republicans indicated they didn’t want negotiations happening too early to take away the leverage they think they have on the debt ceiling…
“Then, some of them called for a “do-over” of the budget debate, including another 50 of hours of debate and a whole new round of unlimited amendments, even after they praised the open and thorough floor debate we had on the Senate Budget.
“And now, in what seems to be the latest delaying tactic, some Republicans are saying that before we can work to solve short-term problems, we first need to agree on the budget outlook thirty years down the road.
“M. President—enough is enough. The American people are sick and tired of the constant lurching from crisis to crisis. They are looking to their elected officials to come together, compromise, and find some common ground—and that’s exactly what we should be doing in a budget conference.
“And it’s not just Democrats saying so. Over the past few weeks we’ve heard a number of Republicans step forward and agree with us that the Tea Party and Senate Republican leadership is absolutely wrong here. Senator Coburn said blocking conference is ‘not a good position to be in.’ Senator Boozman said he would, ‘very much like to see a conference.’ And Senator Wicker said weeks ago, ‘by the end of next week, we probably should be ready to go to conference.’ And now, according to Politico, ‘more Republicans appear to favor heading to conference than blocking it.’
“M. President, it’s certainly true that there are big differences between the parties’ budget values and priorities. But that gives us all the more reason to sit down and try to find common ground. Because the fact is we’ve now got a lot of work we need to get done in the next few weeks.
“We have eleven days until the next state work period—and then just three and a half weeks before we all go back to our home states again for August. And because some Republicans want to continue harmful austerity measures resulting from sequestration, we’ve got a $91 billion gap between the House and Senate spending bills for the next fiscal year.
“If we don’t reconcile those differences, we are going to find ourselves in a tough situation come September. And a lot of hardworking families and communities are going to feel the consequences. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“I am confident that if both sides come together now in a conference committee and are ready to compromise, we can reach a fair, bipartisan, and responsible agreement. M. President, the American people shouldn’t have to worry that the government is going to lurch into another crisis that’s been manufactured by this Congress. It just doesn’t need to happen.
“Instead of fighting over whether or not we should be engaging in bipartisan talks, we should be working together to get more Americans back to work, to protect our economic recovery, and lay the foundation for strong middle class growth in the future.
“I think we can all agree these are important goals—and urgent ones. But we can’t move forward on them if we are consumed with constant artificial crises.
“So M. President, it is time for Senate Republican leaders to listen to the many members of their own party who prefer common sense bipartisanship over delay and disorder, and allow the House and Senate to begin a bipartisan budget conference.
“M. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 33, H. Con. Res. 25; that the amendment which is at the desk, the text of S. Con. Res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the Senate, be inserted in lieu thereof; that H. Con. Res. 25, as amended, be agreed to; the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table; that the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate; that following the authorization, two motions to instruct conferees be in order from each side--motion to instruct relative to the debt limit, and motion to instruct relative to taxes and revenue; that there be 2 hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relation to the motions; further, that no amendments be in order to either of the motions prior to the votes; all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate.
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