White House budget chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell refused to answer a ranking Republican senator’s questions during committee hearing Wednesday over concerns that President Barack Obama’s new budget proposal will increase spending $56 billion above the $1.014 trillion spending limit on discretionary spending agreed to in the Ryan-Murray budget deal.
Instead, Burwell sidestepped questions and defended Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, saying the plan “adheres” to last December’s budget agreement.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) wasn’t buying it. He grilled Burwell during the hearing, saying that the president’s budget would increase spending over the Ryan-Murray bill, a two-year bipartisan budget deal that passed the Senate 64-36 in December. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) brokered the deal.
Burwell said the spending would be offset by raising taxes and tightening tax loopholes. The deal had foes in the Senate including Democrats who objected to the omission of unemployment insurance and Republicans who objected to the stringent cuts in retirement benefits for military retirees.
Sessions questioned Burwell on the president’s proposal to spend $28 billion on public works, job training and other investments, and said that with another $28 billion earmarked for the Defense Department, “you are spending over what the law requires.”
Obama unveiled his budget Tuesday during a visit Tuesday to a Washington, D.C., elementary school, saying, “this budget adheres to the spending principles members of both Houses of Congress have already agreed to.” It is a $3.9 trillion budget, which includes $302 billion in infrastructure spending, tax breaks for lower-income workers, according to The Hill.
Sessions communications director Stephen Miller told TheBlaze, “if you’re looking for an emperor has no clothes moment, this is it.”
White House officials are using their bill to set up their priorities, which include immigration reform legislation “just before the mid-term elections and they know it’s not going to pass,” a congressional aide told TheBlaze.
Obama said Tuesday that his budget “is about choices. It’s about our values. As a country, we’ve got to make a decision if we’re going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, or if we’re going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American.”