Democrats Call Republican Bluff on Budget

It’s hard to resist a little hypocrisy-mongering occasionally, especially when it’s a high-profile subject. Republicans, as you may or may not know, have been fuming for years that Democrats refused to pass a budget via “regular order,” instead making deals in back rooms that allowed them to avoid public scrutiny of their priorities. This year Republicans finally insisted on regular order, and Democrats have taken them up on it. But as Ezra Klein explains, a funny thing happened next:

House Republicans, it seemed, weren’t that eager to move to regular order after all. There’s been no evident interest in the next move, which is appointing conferees to begin reconciling the two budgets….In fact, Republicans see a disadvantage in a formal public process. “If you appoint conferees and after 20 legislative days there’s no agreement, the minority has the right to offer motions to instruct, which become politically motivated bombs that show up on the House floor,” Boehner told reporters.

Senate Democrats don’t find this a very convincing excuse: They note that they had to vote on dozens of Republican amendments — many of which were designed to embarrass them.

House Republicans instead want a private agreement — a “framework” — that would direct the conference committee as they attempt to reconcile the budgets….And Senate Democrats aren’t having it. After years of Republicans complaining about secret deals and hammering Senate Democrats for betraying regular order, they’re calling the GOP’s bluff. That’s why Reid intends to move towards conference this morning. Either Republicans will agree, and regular order will proceed — which will likely mean no deal, and which will then give House Democrats a chance to throw their bombs — or Senate Republicans will filibuster, and that will be the end of the regular order talking point.

Isn’t Washington grand? I can’t say that I personally care much about regular order for the budget, but tea party types and radio blowhards have been griping about this forever. So now they’ve got it. And guess what? It turns out they don’t like it so much after all.