The Democratic Senate has not adopted a budget in three years. This is not only flagrantly irresponsible, it is a violation of federal law. Outgoing Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who is retiring at the end of the year, apparently felt pangs of conscience, because he decided it was finally time for his committee to mark up a budget. He announced that the committee would do so, starting tomorrow.
A standard markup process begins with the committee chairman laying out a proposal, with the chairman and the ranking minority member giving opening statements. This is followed by an amendment process, in which amendments to the proposed legislation (here, the budget resolution) are offered and voted on. The markup process concludes with a committee vote on the bill or resolution as amended. In this case, Conrad assured ranking Republican Jeff Sessions that amendments would be allowed, and as recently as a few hours ago, Conrad’s and Sessions’s staffs were working out details of the amendment process.
Then, earlier this afternoon, Conrad gave a press conference in which he made the stunning announcement that there will be no budget markup after all. Instead, he will present a budget to the Budget Committee tomorrow. There will be no amendments and there will be no votes; not, at least, until after the election. Apparently Conrad had been proceeding on his own initiative, and at the 11th hour Harry Reid–supported by members of his caucus who do not want to have to go on record in favor of any budget–shut down the process.
Even though Republicans are more than happy to vote “on the record about” budgets, never fear. It’s Republican obstructionism and a “do nothing” Republican Congress that’s keeping Washington paralyzed.