Dems Looking to Bust Budget Caps… Again

The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee slammed Senate Democrats Tuesday for ignoring the hard-fought spending caps that Congress agreed to just months ago.

Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was reacting to Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray’s decision to file a plan to spend discretionary funds in fiscal year 2015. The Washington State Democrat said her filing was “consistent with the discretionary spending limits” agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act agreed to late last year.

Republicans say Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is looking to spend $19 billion more in 2015 than permitted under a bipartisan agreement. (AP Photo/, Jordan Stead)

But Murray’s filing calls for $1.160 trillion in discretionary spending, $19 billion more than the level called for in the budget filed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Aides said Ryan’s filing reflects the true spending baseline for 2015 under the Murray-Ryan agreement, and that Murray’s new plan is higher.

“I’m disappointed that Senate Democrats have chosen to make yet another end-run around the Murray-Ryan spending limits in an effort to spend $19 billion more this year than we agreed to,” Sessions said in a statement on Tuesday. “While House Budget Chairman Ryan filed spending enforcement numbers at the same level as the CBO baseline, Senate Budget Chairman Murray did not.

Murray’s filing in the Congressional Record does not make it immediately clear how she plans to spend that money. But Sessions said he suspects Murray will try to shift money in mandatory spending accounts from 2015 to 2016, just as President Obama tried to do with his budget.

Sessions said this technique is aimed at creating the illusion of less spending in 2015, when really that spending will return in 2016.

“This action makes clear that the President and Senate Democrats continue to abuse the spending limits that were set forth in law,” he said. “This is how a nation goes broke.”

President Obama tried the same tactic in his own 2015 budget plan. But the Congressional Budget Office said in an April analysis of Obama’s budget that the tactic does not actually lead to less spending.

Specifically, CBO said most of Obama’s proposed mandatory spending reductions in 2015 “would not generally result in less spending for those programs over the period from 2015 through 2024.”

Sessions is a frequent critic of Senate Democrats for pushing bills that bust through the latest agreed upon spending deal. His office says Democrats have tried seven other times to spend beyond the bipartisan agreement reached late last year.

Earlier in the day, Sessions criticized Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan for proposing an education budget in 2015 that spends more money than agreed for 2015.

“You must know, Mr. Secretary, that your government is running out of money,” Sessions told Duncan at a hearing. “Congress and the President agreed to certain spending limits, but now you are simply proposing to spend well above that.

“These are the spending caps the President himself signed into law just a few months ago. This is not acceptable. If you and the Administration want to spend more money on education, you must make it a priority, reducing spending somewhere else.”