Following a preemptive strike by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee warning Democratic Chairman Kent Conrad against trying to quickly pass his resolution through the panel in a kind of budget blitzkrieg, speculation is growing that Conrad and the so-called “gang of six” might try to skip right over the committee.
“I am becoming concerned that Chairman Conrad may bypass the committee process altogether,” the committee’s top Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, said.
The gang of six have spent months in secret negotiations over a spending deal they hope can form a politically plausible way to reduce rampant federal deficits.
But if the proposal were suddenly thrust into the harsh scrutiny of an open committee markup, senators on the left and right wings might blow the whole deal up, forcing tough votes on tax increases or spending reductions in the proposal.
In Sessions’ view, the process is as important, too – not just the substance of the agreement.
“Rumors that the Gang of Six proposal may contain a substantial increase in Americans’ tax burden speaks to a broader concern: that the public is being removed from this process by crafting a budget behind closed doors instead of in a committee that is open to the public and the press. We shouldn’t fear open debate. The American people have a right to know,” Sessions said.