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“Had the Senate adopted a budget in a timely manner this year, as the House of Representatives did, we would not be at an impasse on the debt limit increase at the 11th hour…[your] provision would provide a further excuse for avoiding a budget and increase the likelihood the Congressional Budget Act will be violated for a third straight year. This is an abrogation of the responsibilities of the Senate Committee on the Budget and the U.S. Senate.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, was joined today by every Republican Senator on the Budget Committee in sending a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid raising concerns about a little-known provision in the Reid debt bill seemingly intended to circumvent the annual budget process. The Senators explain that if the Democrat-led Senate had not disregarded budget law this year, we would not be in our current situation with respect to the debt ceiling. They also note that they have a number of other objections to Reid’s proposal.

Text of the Senators’ letter follows.

Dear Senator Reid,

The law requires Congress to craft a budget every year. It has been 821 days, more than two years, since the United States Senate adopted a budget. The lack of a congressional budget continues to contribute to the fiscal nightmare we now face. Had the Senate adopted a budget in a timely manner this year, as the House of Representatives did, we would not be at an impasse on the debt limit increase at the 11th hour.

Despite not having passed a budget in over two years, your amendment to increase the debt limit deems two consecutive budget resolutions for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. It sets spending allocations for most Senate Committees at the Congressional Budget Office’s rising baseline. Without hearings or debate on these allocations, this provision would provide a further excuse for avoiding a budget and increase the likelihood the Congressional Budget Act will be violated for a third straight year.

This is an abrogation of the responsibilities of the Senate Committee on the Budget and the U.S. Senate. We were not elected to this body and chosen to serve on the Committee on the Budget to see most of the budget levels automatically set based on spending growth projections made by staff. It is this kind of process that has placed the country in a fiscal crisis.

While we have other objections to your proposal, we specifically ask that you remove this provision from your amendment and allow the Committee to fulfill its duties and responsibilities, as set out in law, by allowing the markup of a fiscal year 2012 budget resolution in Committee and, once adopted, its immediate consideration in the Senate.

Very truly yours,

Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member
Chuck Grassley
Mike Enzi
Mike Crapo
John Cornyn
Lindsey Graham
John Thune
Rob Portman
Pat Toomey
Ron Johnson
Kelly Ayotte

[Note: To view a video clip of Sessions’ earlier floor remarks on this provision, please click here.]

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