GOP pols urging leadership to conduct budget negotiations in public
Republicans understand their political leverage is significantly diminished following their electoral drubbing earlier this month, but some fear the secretive, high-level nature of tax and spending negotiations underway risks undermining the GOP position even further.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, last week issued a strong rebuke to the “closed-door meetings” and “secrecy” that have characterized recent efforts to produce a bipartisan agreement.
“Secrecy cements the status quo: more spending, more debt, more runaway government. It is the enemy of accountability, change, and reform,” Sessions said in a statement. “We cannot simply rush through some secret deal that no one can amend, alter, review, scrutinize, or dispute.”
He called on party leaders to guarantee that any agreement on the fiscal cliff be placed on the Senate floor for a full week of open debate with amendments before a final vote.
President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist echoed the call for transparency.
“If Republicans are being unreasonable the whole world will see it; if Obama’s being unreasonable the whole world will see it,” Norquist told the Washington Free Beacon. “Let’s have an actual honest, transparent discussion, and not have to wait a year for Bob Woodward to write a book about it.”
One concern about the prevalence of closed-door talks and last-minute deals is that they validate the Democratic Party’s strategic refusal over the past several years even to propose a viable budget document.
More than 1,300 days have passed since Senate Democrats formally approved a budget resolution as required by law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has maintained it would be “foolish” for them to do so.
Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the incoming Senate Budget Committee chair, appeared poised to continue that dubious tradition.
Murray declined last week to commit to passing a budget this year and suggested an agreement on the fiscal cliff could preclude the need to do so.