House Dems urge GOP to hold a hearing on Obama's budget plan

House Dems urge GOP to hold a hearing on Obama's budget plan
© Getty Images

House Budget Committee Democrats on Wednesday called on Republicans to use a delay in taking up their own budget proposal to hold a hearing on President Obama's blueprint. 

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), ranking member of the Budget panel, along with the committee's 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) urging him to reconsider a joint decision with the Senate to skip hearings with White House budget chief Shaun Dononvan to discuss the fiscal 2017 budget plan.  

ADVERTISEMENT
“Denying the president’s budget a hearing is a blatant breach of longstanding protocol, and a crass display of partisanship,” the House Democrats wrote.

“We call on you to use the additional time afforded by the delay in mark-up to review and debate the president’s budget," they wrote.

"Upholding this longstanding, bipartisan tradition ensures that the committee lives up to its responsibilities to the American people.”

Republicans shifted a planned mark-up of their budget plan from next week to mid-March as Price tries to build support around the proposal that would hold spending levels at $1.07 trillion — as agreed to in a deal with the White House last year — in exchange for votes on reforms to mandatory spending programs aimed at reducing the deficit.

But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said this week that Price's plan would be impossible to carry out in his process of crafting spending bills and would instead have to be undertaken through the reconciliation process, a heavy lift with a legislative calendar shortened by the presidential election.

On top of that, House conservatives so far don't seem game to take their chances and vote on a budget with the higher price tag than they would like without concrete guarantees that spending cuts will be implemented through the appropriations process. 

Van Hollen also on Wednesday introduced a resolution directing the Budget Committee to hold a public hearing on the president’s budget, but Republicans blocked its passage.

The Democrats argue that for more than 40 years the Budget panels have without fail given the sitting president's budget an airing on Capitol Hill.

But earlier this month Price said that because the Obama administration has never balanced a budget or shown "any real interest in actually solving our fiscal challenges or saving critical programs like Medicare and Social Security from insolvency" they wouldn't bother with a hearing this year.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Senate GOP budget paves way for .5T in tax cuts MORE (R-Wyo.) said that "instead of hearing from an administration unconcerned with our $19 trillion in debt, we should focus on how to reform America’s broken budget process and restore the trust of hardworking taxpayers."