After winning a majority in the House in November 2010, Republicans fought to reduce spending and return some fiscal sanity to the federal budget. As part of the Budget Control Act in 2011, President Obama insisted on his sequester. Because of its indiscriminate cuts – including to the military – House Republicans passed two bills in 2012 to replace the president’s sequester with common-sense reductions and reforms. The Democrat-controlled Senate never considered these bills, and it wasn’t until the end of 2013 that Democrats worked with Republicans to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act, otherwise known as the Ryan-Murray agreement. It replaced one-time sequester spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs, helped protect our military and national security priorities, and kept the bipartisan spending caps in place.
Here’s an important point: Democrats often howled in protest when Republicans proposed to spend less than the caps. Note:
- “Until the House of Representatives indicates that it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the president will not be able to sign any appropriations bills.” (Acting White House Budget Office Director Jeffrey Zients)
- “The Budget Control Act was a compromise that forced both Democrats and Republicans to accept things they didn't like - this is the very nature of compromise. … If House Republicans turn around and violate our agreement, it makes the process much more difficult.” (Rep. Chris Van Hollen)
- “I'm really disappointed that they're considering … violating the budget agreement that is now the law of this country. This was designed to avoid another government shutdown or a threat of a shutdown.” (Sen. Harry Reid)
Here’s another important point: now Democrats want to break the caps and increase spending at the IRS and EPA. And they’re threatening to block all spending bills and shut down the government if they don’t get their way:
- “‘We need to have more money,’ said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Democrat and vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee …. While lacking much power in the House, Democrats maintain more than enough senators to filibuster in the Senate — and on Tuesday they vowed to block any of the dozen annual spending bills from even reaching the floor until the GOP agrees to higher spending. That would leave Congress poised for another shutdown showdown come Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.” (The Washington Times)
- “It’s only June, but talk of a government shutdown is already growing on Capitol Hill ahead of a September deadline to keep the government funded. As Senate Democrats stiffen their resolve to block Republican spending bills, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) put it plainly on Wednesday morning: ‘We’re headed for another shutdown.’” (Politico)
- “After almost six months in the minority, Charles E. Schumer [D-NY] says Senate Democrats aren’t afraid to be obstructionists, detailing a strategy of blocking appropriations bills and other Republican agenda items until they get what they want. … Get ready for filibuster summer. … The White House-backed plan to get Republicans to support more spending for domestic programs by blocking floor consideration of appropriations bills was developed in a series of closed-door meetings held over the course of several weeks. … [A] breakdown on appropriations could end the narrative that Republicans have ushered in a new gridlock-free era of legislating in Congress. The plan to block votes on spending bills also opens Democrats to charges of hypocrisy. They spent years deriding Republican delaying tactics as being obstructionist before now warming to the idea[.]” (The Washington Post)
- “Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Wednesday warned Republicans that if they don’t reach another bipartisan deal to lift spending ceilings, they risk causing another government shutdown this fall. … Murray was the co-architect of a deal reached with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in December 2013 that eased sequestration spending limits for two years. That deal expires at the end of September, and Republicans have been moving through appropriations bills that are based on the sequestration caps. Senate Democrats are threatening to block each GOP spending bill based on those levels. … ‘[T]he automatic cuts need to be rolled back evenly across defense and non-defense investments. This is non-negotiable.’” (The Hill)
“Who’s the Party of Hostage-Taking Terrorists Now?” one columnist asked, throwing Democrats’ own violent rhetoric back at them.
On some level, it is amusing: Democrats once thought it was insanely radical for Republicans to oppose too much spending, but now think it’s perfectly reasonable to shut down the government when the spending bills don’t spend enough. On what planet?
In reality, Democrats’ actions are reprehensible. Just last week, only 43 Democrats voted for a defense appropriations bill that includes a pay raise for our troops. That’s about one-third of the number that supported a bill to fund their own congressional offices.
With the national debt at more than $18 trillion and counting, now is hardly the time for Democrats to demand spending increases. They should stop trying to bust the budget caps – and break their obstruction fever instead.