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Politics to blame for lack of House budget resolution, says political analyst

Politics to blame for lack of House budget resolution, says political analyst

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
June 24, 2010

Politics are at the heart of the U.S. House of Representatives’ failure to pass a budget resolution for FY 2011, according to a noted Washington D.C. political analyst.  According to Fox News , House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, announced Tuesday that instead, the House will vote on a “budget enforcement resolution”, which will make small cuts to discretionary spending that critics call largely symbolic.

The deadline for a budget resolution was April 15th, and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-2nd District, says while President Obama has already submitted his non-binding proposal, and the Senate has begun debating their budget blueprint, the House leadership is punting their responsibility.  He thinks that’s hypocritical, saying that in 2006, when the Republicans were the majority in Congress, then-House Minority Whip Hoyer said enacting a budget is “the most basic responsibility of governing.” 

One Washington political analyst believes politics are at the heart of why the House will not pass a budget blueprint.  “If you pass a budget resolution, you are, in effect, ratifying a huge budget deficit,” said Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute .  “There’s a fear that it would be used against you politically and a fear that you might find a majority (opposed).”  Ornstein said no matter what kind of resolution is eventually passed, "it’s a given that no Republican will vote for it."

Simpson, a member of the House budget committee, agrees.  “Speaker Pelosi simply doesn’t want her members to be on the record as supporting what could be the largest federal budget in history, and she doesn’t want them to be forced to explain themselves to their constituents before elections this fall.”   Simpson said if a budget resolution were passed this year, it would show a deficit of about $1.5 trillion, and expose the effects of what he called “the reckless spending of the last several years, made drastically worse this year by passage of the budget-busting health care bill.”

Ornstein said there have been a few years since the passage of the Budget Act of 1974 that the House and Senate failed to come to terms on a joint budget plan, but each has always at least come up with their own blueprints.   “There have been occasions when the Senate and the House did not agree on budget resolutions,” Ornstein said.  “The House has passed a budget resolution (every year), but it’s not a congressional budget resolution until you get a concurrent resolution.”

Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute

Ornstein said the lack of a House budget resolution isn't the end of the world. “We used to fund the government perfectly well before the Budget Act, which set in place budget resolutions.  You’re still going to have to have money appropriated through a legal process, which means you’re going to have to have appropriations bills or continuing resolutions pass both houses of Congress.”

Simpson is less forgiving.  He thinks the House will pass a “deeming resolution”, which assumes the budget is passed at the levels seen fit by the majority.  “But it won’t set a discretionary spending cap or require consistency between the House and Senate spending bills,” said Simpson.  “Democrats have indicated that they also may punt responsibility to a budget commission, which is akin to the pilot asking a passenger to fly the plane while he takes a nap.”

Idaho Reporter also contacted the office of Rep. Walt Minnick, D-1st District, but had not heard back at the time this article was written.

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