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Republicans to Chair: Give Us a Chance to Read, Debate, and Amend the Budget

UPDATE: Murray declines Republicans' request.

11:16 AM, Mar 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In advance of Senator Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, releasing a budget next week, which is expected to happen Wednesday, Republicans have written a letter to ask for sufficient time to read, debate, and amend the budget. The letter is signed by all ten Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, and addressed directly to Murray.

Patty Murray and Harry Reid

"An unfortunate trend in recent years ... has been for the Committee to introduce, amend, and report out a budget resolution in less than 48 hours--hardly sufficient time for the public of the Committee to read, analyze and debate its content. In the more distant past, when the budget process was a serious and thoughtful exercise, committee deliberations would often consume an entire week," the senators stipulate. 

The senators on the minority side make two simple requests of the committee chair:

The first is that Murray "Post the Chairman's Mark online (both legislative text and tables) no later than three days before the Committee convenes for markup." The senators believe that "This would allow every member of the Committee and public--including citizens beyond Washington, D.C.--to consider the proposal and ask questions."

The second request is to "Extend the time allotted for amendments." They add, "In the recent, the Chairman has allocated only one calendar day for amendments to the budget resolution. As a result, the debate time for each amendment has been truncated and over time, markup has denigrated into partisan sniping and 'gotcha' amendments."

The senators that signed the letter include: Jeff Sessions, Charles Grassley, Mike Crapo, Ron Johnson, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Pat Toomey, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, and Roger Wicker.

We'll see next week if Murray respects the wishes of the minority members of the committee. 

If the Republicans' request isn't honored, it could mean that the budget will not be viewed by the minority before each of the senators have to give opening remarks at the budget hearing. It could also mean that the entire process is done in a matter of hours. 

"[D]ebate cannot be meaningful or edifying when compressed into 6-8 hours of actual productive work," the Republicans write. "Moreover, we believe our proposed changes will signal to others a renewed attention to the budget resolution, the budget process, and the important work of our committee."

UPDATE: A source on the Senate Budget Committee says that Murray has rejected the request made this week by Republicans. 

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