Today marks the 751st day since the Democrats have passed a budget. And it looks as if we may have a while to wait until their next proposal is even introduced. Now that the “Gang of Six” talks have pretty much fallen apart, Sen. Kent Conrad (D–N.Dak.) is refusing to give a set date for when Democrats will have a budget resolution ready, vaguely saying that it will come at some point “in the weeks ahead”:
Following the apparent demise of the vaunted “Gang of Six” budget negotiations in the Senate, Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Thursday he still won’t be proposing a budget for “weeks. . . .“ We have decided to defer a budget mark-up because of the high-level bipartisan leadership negotiations that are currently underway,” Conrad said in a written statement, “The results of those negotiations may need to be included in a budget resolution that would be offered in the weeks ahead.”
Conrad says that Democrats are waiting to hear the conclusions of President Biden’s panel on the deficit before they release their proposal. Of course, as Sen. Sessions has pointed out, the Democrats previously delayed the release of their budget plan by claiming they were waiting on the Gang of Six. So it’s getting difficult to take these excuses seriously anymore.
“It seems Senate Democrats are desperately trying to avoid having to present a budget to the American people,” Sessions said in a statement yesterday. “They know that the big spenders in their caucus prevent them from bringing forward a credible plan that both their party and the country can support.”
Sessions is right, but unfortunately the Democrats don’t really have an urgent reason to bring a budget proposal forward. Politically, they probably benefit more at the moment by attacking Ryan’s budget and hoping that the American people don’t notice their failure to propose their own. The question is, how long can this last? The Senate GOP has been in serious attack mode against Democratic foot-dragging recently, and if public anger starts growing then the Conrad will have no choice but to cave in and release a budget plan. But getting him to that point will not be easy.