Murray, other Dems pressure GOP to start budget debate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday tried to start 50 hours of debate on the budget while the clock was ticking down on the continuing resolution (CR). But Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) blocked the move, in part to try to force a vote on his amendment to the CR

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Murray, who was joined on the floor by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said she was confident that the American people would stand by Democrats’ plan.

“We know our budget resolution reflects the values of the American people,” Murray said. “The contrast is going to be clear and the American people will continue to stand with us as we fight for a balanced approach.”

Democrats say their budget cuts the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years through an equal amount of tax revenue and spending cuts, but the GOP has said that, because it assumes the sequester will not happen, the amount of deficit reduction is closer to $700 billion.

Earlier Tuesday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) criticized Murray’s budget for not balancing the budget over 10 years, as the House GOP budget does.

“Their budget would never balance,” Thune said. “It begs the question, what is balanced about a budget that never balances?”

Schumer said he thought Republicans could be holding up the process because they realize that the public doesn’t support the plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan’s plan would cut projected spending by $5.7 trillion and reduce the top tax rate to 25 percent, while balancing the budget over 10 years.

Schumer said Ryan’s plan “ends Medicare as we know it” and eliminates tax cuts for middle class families.

“I guess if I had their budget, I’d want to put it off too,” Schumer said. “Let the people hear us debate. We’re pretty confident they’ll like our budget better.”

The budget requires 50 hours of debate and unlimited germane amendments. Reid had said he'd hoped to begin the budget process at the start of the week so lawmakers could leave for their two-week Easter/Passover recess, but now it appears senators will be have to work through the weekend to complete the budget process.