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Mr. Conrad's announcement surprised Republicans and Democrats who were expecting him to produce a Democratic budget that, if passed by the committee, would have been the first detailed deficit reduction plan in three years.
That is the way the New York Times reported it, and I say they are accurate. That is the way I saw it.
Senator Joe Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats and he said he was ``disappointed by the party's refusal to confront the issue,'' and said further, ``I don't think the Democrats will offer their own budget, and I'm disappointed in that.''
Senator Mark Pryor admitted: ``We've had three years with President Obama where we're not able to get a budget resolution passed.''
But it gets worse. Not only have Democratic colleagues failed to do their duty, they have savagely attacked the House for producing a budget and laying out a plan. Here is what Senator Conrad said today. Senator Conrad is a good friend, but give me a break, Senator Conrad. He said the House plan ``fails any moral test of government.'' He said the House plan failed the ``moral test,'' and he repeated that several times.
These comments are outrageous. They are inaccurate, but they are also hypocritical. I ask: What is the morality of the majority party in this Senate that has violated the law purposely and deliberately in order to avoid presenting a plan to save this Nation from financial disaster? They have deliberately refused to go forward. What about the families who will be impacted by a debt crisis? What about our military? What about our future as a nation? Where is our duty during this defining hour of our Republic--America's hour of need? Is there no response and no leadership?
Every Senate Democrat in every State, I think, will have to explain why they have not stood up to Senator Reid and his proposal. Presumably, they are all in it together. None have actually come to the floor and opposed him and said they would vote to bring up a budget.
I know the Senator was stung a bit this morning, but it is not a lie to say we didn't have a budget this year, and I know it was painful to listen to the litany of failures of this Congress. First, no budget in over 3 years--1,240 days; no appropriations bills this year--not one. We failed to bring up the Defense authorization bill for the first time in 50 years. We have failed to confront the sequester and debate how to fix it. We know we are going to have to do that. Yet we are going to let it wait until the end of the year, causing great turmoil at the Department of Defense. We have not dealt with the fiscal cliff.
All of those are fundamental things this Senate should have done and we haven't done any of them. We don't even bring up the bills. We should have had a great historic debate for the last 2 years over the future financial status of America because it is clearly the greatest threat facing our Nation. Yet we haven't had it. We have had little groups meet in secret--gangs and groups and secret committees and special committees.
But this is what I would say about this budget. If I were prosecuting a case--as I used to when I was a Federal prosecutor--I would say the defendant has confessed. This is what Senator Reid said back in May of 2011: ``There is no need to have a Democratic budget, in my opinion.''
It is not a question of his opinion. It is the law of the United States. Nobody asked his opinion. He has a duty to follow the law, I would think.
How about this. He goes on to state: ``It would be foolish for us to do a budget.''
Senator Reid, I think, has moved into this modern world--postmodern world--where words mean about anything we want them to mean. We can just say it is a lie that we don't have a budget; that we produced a budget and refer to the Budget Control Act, which was simply a part of the compromise to raise the debt ceiling and set some spending limits on spending in the discretionary accounts only--not all the accounts of the United States. That is not a budget, and the Parliamentarian has already ruled that is not a budget.
There is no question we don't have a budget, and we haven't had leadership. It has been very disappointing. And I was disappointed to have my good friend Senator Conrad attack the House for having the gumption to lay out a plan that would change the debt course of America and put us on a path to prosperity. I am sorry Senator Reid has overreacted and declared that it is not true what we, the Republicans, have asserted, that we don't have a budget, because we don't have a budget. It is true.
I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.
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