GOP's Turn to Make Dems Wait as Budget Conference Committee Stalled
Nonetheless, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to prohibit any conference committee from addressing the issue.
“One of my concerns is that this conference report could be used to pass a reconciliation bill that would increase the debt ceiling without sufficient input from the minority party and without addressing the fundamental structural spending problems we have in the federal government that are leading to our unsustainable debt,” Cruz said. “I believe this concern is well founded in history in that reconciliation bills have been used to increase the debt ceiling at least three times -- in 1986, 1990, and in 1993.”
But Murray said the inability of Congress to hammer out any spending plan is creating national uncertainty.
“And we know that in order to solve this huge problem we have to come to a table and compromise and listen to the other side,” Murray said. “We can't do it in the dead of night, we can't do it with a couple people sitting in a room, that's been done before and it doesn't work. We need to have regular order and we need to have this process out in the open, we need the American people to hear what the different sides say and then we're all going to have to take some tough votes.”
On the House side, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he wants Ryan and Murray to work out ground rules and the parameters for negotiations before appointing a conference committee.
Boehner also said he is approaching the issue cautiously to avoid politically motivated amendments from cropping up on the floor of the lower chamber to embarrass Republicans.
"Under rules, if you appoint conferees and after 20 legislative days there’s no agreement, the minority has the right to offer motions to instruct, which become politically motivated bombs to throw up on the House floor,” Boehner said. "So to be frank with all of you, we’re following what I would describe as regular order. These informal conversations are underway and that’s the way it should be.”
But House Democrats are demanding a quicker pace. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, has sponsored a resolution urging Boehner to proceed with the appointments.
“Congressional Republicans were quick to criticize the Senate and the President for standing in the way of a timely budget process – but they are now the only ones standing in the way,” Van Hollen said. “Despite the fact that Congress has missed its legal deadline of passing a final budget, the GOP won’t even take the first step and appoint budget conferees.”
The foot-dragging comes after congressional Republicans supported an effort to prohibit members of Congress from getting paid unless each chamber passed a budget.
“There is no time for delay,” he said. “We must move forward immediately with a budget conference committee to work out our differences, boost job growth and get our fiscal house in order.”
But speaking at a recent forum, Ryan indicated Republicans are in no hurry.
"We don't want to go to conference just for the sake of going to conference," he said.