How’s that for a grabber?
Anyway…Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, took part in a conference call with a few bloggers yesterday to take issue with the Senate Democratic budget, which will be marked up this week. (Congress Daily summary here.) Gregg seemed fired up, taking heated issue with the larger government, bigger spending and higher taxes he expects from the majority.
Acting on instructions from the NAM policy mavens, we asked about the reconciliation process. That’s the only real hammer the Budget Committee has, using a reconciliation resolution to demand specific spending actions by committees in charge. Reconciliation-instructed actions are then not subject to filibuster and can pass by a 51-49 vote.
In the past, reconciliation has been used to cut spending, but Gregg says last year the practice was reversed when Democrats juggled student loan spending and reimbursements to increase spending by some $19 billion.
And this year?
I expect they’re going to do the same game, but they’re going to use it much more aggressively this year – probably use it on Medicare, probably use it on Medicaid, maybe use it on S-CHIP, maybe use it on some agriculture programs. I’m expecting them to be significantly expanding the size of government by using reconciliation protection in getting around the filibuster.
Q: And is there any way to resist that?
A: Well, in the end, as long as we have a Republican president, their proposal would be subject to a veto, but it does mute the ability of Senate Republicans to use the filibuster to stop something coming right out of the gate.
UPDATE (9:45 a.m.): Gregg’s basic argument, the political critique of the Democratic budget, as reported by Townhall.com.
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