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Why Has This Ranking GOP Member Been Left out of 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations?


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Despite the fact that he’s a ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) claims he has been excluded from the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

In fact, according to the senator, he knows “almost nothing” about the ongoing talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). All he knows is that the "speaker was disappointed and things were not moving forward."

“The people that are losing in this process -- this secret process -- are the American people. They will be the ones asked to pay more taxes, they may be the ones asked to tighten their belts, and they need to know what the choices are, and what we are wrestling with,” Sen. Sessions said Wednesday during an interview with CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.

“I really think the classical understanding of the way Congress should operate is being undermined,” he added. “About the only thing Republicans could have done would be to protest it and fight harder about it. And we have, but I don’t think effectively enough.”

“And we’ve now, at the end, fallen into this trap, I would suggest, of just having secret negotiations. I really wish we could have avoided it, but this was the strategy of the Democratic leadership in the Senate.”

Given the fact that the Alabama senator has long been a staunch opponent of wasteful government spending, and the fact that entitlement reform is one of the two elements involved in the "fiscal cliff," his frustration with being left out is somewhat understandable.

Just yesterday Sen. Sessions sparred with CNN’s constantly concerned-looking Soledad O’Brien on the need to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e. food stamps):

“People basically say why are you trying to balance the budget on people who are making under $23,000 a year?” asked the furrow-browed O’Brien.

“I think that range roughly is the national average for what a family of four would get on food stamps. So why not cut something else? There are other things that could be on the table before you pick a program that is feeding the nation's poor children,” she added.

“No child, no person, who needs food, should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that," the senator responded. "But we're talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion, when we would spend $800 billion, was opposed by saying it would help leave people hungry in America."

"But it would have only eliminated abuses in the program," he added. "It surely has to have some change."

And let’s not forget the numerous times the senator's office has illustrated for us the clear need for spending reform:

In short, leaving Sen. Sessions out of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations is a little like leaving Gen. George S. Patton out of the invasion of Normandy.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

Featured image courtesy Getty Images. This post has been updated.

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