Senate Dems officially set 2013 spending levels

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), a member of the Democratic leadership team, added in a Tuesday statement that House Republicans were reneging on a deal their Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), had signed off on less than a year ago.

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“They have shown that a deal with them isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and they are threatening families across America yet again with the prospect of a government shutdown,” said Murray, who co-chaired the supercommittee created by the Budget Control Act.

House Republicans on Tuesday dismissed that Democratic argument, with Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) dubbing it “political theater.”

House GOP leaders have argued that last summer’s debt-ceiling deal set a high bar for spending, and that they were not precluded from setting a lower discretionary spending amount.

Some House conservatives have also stressed that they fear the discretionary spending level isn’t low enough in the Ryan budget.

Conrad told reporters on Tuesday that he thought appropriators would face a more difficult job if the Senate and House proceed with different discretionary spending levels.

And the North Dakota Democrat, who is not seeking reelection this year and has been working for months to craft a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal, added that lawmakers still needed to come together on a broader debt deal.

The resolution Conrad filed on Tuesday also puts into place budget enforcement levels through 2022.

“What I’m doing today discharges the responsibility for the coming fiscal year,” Conrad said. “What we still need to do is agree on a longer-term plan that deals with our deficits and debt.”

Senate Budget Commitee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) begged to differ.

"Senate Democrats have abandoned their obligations, and have refused to offer a budget for now three straight years now. They didn’t bother to write one last year, and they are going to miss the April 1st deadline to write one this year as well. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Leader, said it would be ‘foolish’ to have a budget. The Senate’s Democratic majority has forfeited their claim to leadership for America," he said Tuesday.
 
"If the voters give Republicans in the Senate the honor of having the majority next year, we will work with the House to pass a congressional budget. It will be an honest budget. It will change the debt course of America,” he added.