The Senate passed a budget. Tea Party blocked compromise with the House.

One of the myths going around about what led to the shutdown is that Senate Democrats refused to compromise with the House on the budget.

Some even say that the Senate never passed a budget.

That’s incorrect.

The Senate passed a budget over six months ago. Then Tea Party Senators blocked any compromise with the House.

The normal process, what is called “regular order,” is that both the House and Senate pass budgets. Then each appoint members to the conference committee, which meets and works out a compromise. The conference report then goes back to the House and Senate for final passage. And, of course then, it goes to the president who can sign or veto it.

In March 2013, the Senate passed a budget. But, using procedural rules, Tea Party Senators refused to allow a conference committee to be appointed under the usual procedure.

Fifty-nine days after the Senate budget was passed, Sen. Patty Murray, the Chair of the Budget Committee, came to the Senate floor to decry this state of the affairs.

Senators McCain and Collins joined Murray and called upon their Republican colleagues to allow a conference committee with the House. This clip is but two minutes long and is well worth watching.

Then Sen. Rand Paul spoke.

Paul objected to going to conference, claiming that Democrats want to use the budget negotiations to “orchestrate a back-room deal to raise the debt ceiling.”

He was joined by Cruz, who insisted the debt ceiling should not be raised absent major spending cuts — and should thus be subject to a supermajority-threshold for passage. If the House and Senate negotiators agreed on a unified budget, including a debt ceiling increase, it would be immune from filibuster. [source]

These statements were made on May 21, 2013. At that time, a conference committee had been blocked eight times. That day it was blocked for the ninth time. But those were not the last time this would be blocked.

Claims that the Senate never passed a budget are not true. And it’s quite clear that the Senate was ready to compromise with the House on the budget — but Tea Party Republicans refused to take the normal step to create compromises.

For the full discussion on that May day in the Senate, see the below clip.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.