U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today in response to the announcement that the Senate Majority would finally agree to comply with federal law and offer a budget, acquiescing to Sessions and his colleagues:
"I am gratified that Chairman Murray has announced that the Senate majority has relented and will offer its first budget in four years. Majority Leader Reid had previously said it would be "foolish' to do a budget and his party cancelled the legally required Senate mark-up in 2011 and 2012--even after former Chairman Conrad had explicitly promised to bring up a budget in committee. I have repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the Senate Democrats' brazen legal defiance in this time of national fiscal emergency. I was frankly stunned that our new Chairman would say that Republicans "have time and again pulled budget negotiations out of the Budget Committees,' when Senate Democrats alone control whether committee meetings occur. They alone decided to cancel them. The House, on the other hand, met its legal obligations.
To compel Senate action I have introduced legislation, blocked recess, and encouraged the use of the debt ceiling as leverage. Now, with their pay threatened, and long-simmering public anger growing, Senate Democrats have suddenly seen the light. Even just a few days ago, they were not willing to commit to doing a budget. The sooner the majority allows the budget process to move forward, the sooner meaningful debate can occur and the sooner the Senate can at last meet its legal and moral obligations. Secret meetings are an affront to popular democracy.
The way forward is for the House and the Senate to both lay out long-term financial plans and present them to the American people. In the past, Democrats refused to do so for political reasons, believing it better to attack the House while having no plan to present, explain, or defend.
Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office will present Congress with a new baseline on February 4, 2013. This baseline will reveal how much deficit reduction is needed to balance the budget in 10 years. I stand ready to immediately work with Chairman Murray on a budget in committee to meet this target by April 1st.
An honest evaluation of our debt course does not allow for gimmicks or other misleading maneuvers. For instance, when we talk about producing a balanced budget we mean exactly that: a budget that results in no deficit. We do not mean achieving "primary balance' or a budget with a "balanced approach.' Further, such gimmicks as counting phony reductions in war spending or double-counting Medicare revenues cannot be accepted as a part of any honest financial plan.
It certainly won't be easy to put this nation on a sound financial course, but it is essential. Needed fiscal changes will not only prevent an economic nightmare but they will reduce growing poverty, dependency, and joblessness and help more Americans live free and prosperous lives. Republicans are eager to work on this important endeavor and look forward to the commencement of committee activity."