House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that Congress does not need an official federal budget because it can just adopt appropriations bills and authorization policies as needed to keep operating.
At a briefing with journalists on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Hoyer was asked, “Mr. Hoyer, around the same time of the State of the Union [on Jan. 24], I think it was the same day, Republicans were trying to hit Senate Democrats for 1,000 days without passing a budget, and then you talk about this milestone today, 400 days without a jobs bill in the Republican House. But then on Friday [Democratic Senator Harry] Reid said that he didn’t think they needed to bring a budget to the floor this year [and that] the Budget Control Act can serve as a guideline.”
Hoyer said: “What does the budget do? The budget does one thing and really only one thing: It sets the parameters of spending and discretionary caps. Other than that, the Appropriations committee are not bound by the Budget committee’s priorities.”
He continued: “The fact is, you don’t need a budget. We can adopt appropriations bills. We can adopt authorization policies without a budget. We already have an agreed-upon cap on spending.”
Hoyer criticized the Republicans for not passing a budget for “a number of years” when they were in control of the House, Senate, and the presidency under George W. Bush.
“So that this 1,000 days they haven’t passed a budget, the Republicans went for equal lengths of time without passing a budget. I think 05’ and 06’,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer called the Congressional Republicans highlighting the Senate’s failure to pass a budget in over 1,000 days an “argument to dissemble and distract the attention on the lack of productive accomplishment in the House of Representatives.”
“Again, I remind you, when we had a Republican president and we controlled the House and the Senate, twice as many bills -- more than twice as many bills -- were signed by President Bush as has been signed by President Obama,” Hoyer said.
“Why? Because we [congressional Democrats] worked with President Bush,” said Hoyer. “This Republican leadership’s not interested in working with President Obama and that’s unfortunate.”
The House Republicans passed a budget for fiscal year 2012 back in April 2011 – not one House Democrat supported the bill, and only four House Republicans voted against it. The budget bill went nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The last time the Senate passed a budget was on Apr. 29, 2009.
The federal government has since been operating on funds approved through a series of continuing resolutions (CR), raises in the debt ceiling, and several appropriations bills. The last CR was passed in mid-December 2011, by both the House and Senate, and signed by President Barack Obama.
That $915-billion deal, along with several appropriations measures, will keep the federal government operating though the end of fiscal year 2012, on Sept. 30.
Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), referencing the last debt ceiling deal, said, “We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year. It’s done, we don’t need to do it.”
Concerning Reid’s remarks, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in a statement, “It’s been more than 1,000 days since Senate Democrats have offered a budget plan to the American people. Now, once again, the Senate’s ineffectual Democrat majority balks at the task of leadership. … He obviously continues in his belief that it would be politically foolish for his members to go on record in support of any long-term vision. … Budget Control Act spending caps, crafted behind closed doors and rushed to passage at the 11th hour under threat of panic, do not even approach the definition of the budget process that the law requires.”