Monday, June 13, 2011

Kaine: It's a 'major problem' that Senate Dems haven't passed a 2012 budget

From: The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

It's a "major problem" that Senate Democrats haven't passed a budget for 2012, Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) said Monday.

Kaine, who most recently served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said he thought the Senate should pass a budget.

"I don't disagree with you that the absence of a budget [in the Senate] is a major problem," Kaine said on CNBC, when former GE CEO Jack Welch pressed him on the issue.

The statement is another example of Kaine getting out ahead of his party. He was one of the first and most prominent Democrats to call for Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) resignation last week after Weiner admitted to trying to cover up his lewd behavior on Twitter.

Kaine is positioning himself to run as a centrist in Virginia, which is likely to be a key swing state in the 2012 presidential election.

Republicans have complained that only the GOP-controlled House has done the work of passing a budget, having authorized a plan from Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate's budget panel, has been a particularly outspoken critic of Senate Democrats for not having passed a budget.

The Democratic majority in the Senate has yet to produce a 2012 budget. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he intends to produce one, but not until the fiscal talks led by Vice President Biden conclude.

Neither the House nor the Senate passed a budget last year while Democrats held the majorities in both chambers.

Senate Democrats held a vote last month on Ryan's budget, in part to put some vulnerable Republicans on the record when it comes to that proposal's more controversial measures, including its reforms to Medicare. That budget failed 42-55, and when Republicans offered a motion that resulted in a vote on President Obama's 2012 budget proposal, it failed unanimously, 0-97.

"I think you raise a great point," Kaine responded to Welch's gripe about the lack of a budget. "This is a very serious problem with Washington and the legislative area not doing what it needs to do. I was a governor of Virginia; we passed budgets."

Kaine said that both revenues and spending should be on the table in addressing fiscal challenges but didn't delve into specifics.

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