After Stressing Need to Present a Budget, House Dems Fail to Get One Done

Dems say they were 'elected to deliver,' but fall short in major test

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Holds Her Weekly News Conference On Capitol Hill
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April 3, 2019

After Democrats took control of the House with many candidates stressing the importance of passing a budget, party leadership has punted the idea of passing a budget due to internal divides over spending priorities and taxes.

It had become increasingly clear that House Democrats would be unable to agree on a budget blueprint that could pass a floor vote, with more liberal lawmakers demanding cuts to defense spending, an embrace of expensive liberal policies, and tax increases to pay for them. Leadership officially abandoned any prospect of getting a deal done on Monday, according to Bloomberg.

The failure is a blow to Democratic lawmakers in swing districts who bashed Republicans for failing to get a budget passed in recent years. Many of the freshman lawmakers, such as Rep. Cindy Axne (D., Iowa), cosponsored a bill that would raise the stakes for failing to come together on a budget.

"Our legislation says if lawmakers can't agree on a budget, lawmakers don't get paid," Axne said of her Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act. "It's time to stop punishing everyday Iowans for Washington dysfunction."

Axne's legislation was introduced with Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D., Iowa), another freshman lawmaker in a toss up district. Both have also signed on to the No Budget, No Recess Act, which would block members from leaving town without passing a budget.

Finkenauer in her first week as a member said on Twitter, "Don't tell me what you value—show me your budget," a quote attributed to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rep. T.J. Cox (D., Calif.), a freshman member in a vulnerable district, quoted the Biden line as recently as last month in a piece he wrote on the importance of budgets.

"As the old political cliché goes, show me your budget, and I'll show you your priorities," Cox wrote in the Fresno Bee. "This new Congress was elected to deliver. That means working across the aisle, and yes, it means negotiating."

Among the other members in vulnerable districts to cosponsor the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act are Reps. Josh Harder (D., Calif.), Gil Cisneros (D., Calif.), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D., Fla.), Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.), Chris Pappas (D., N.H.), , Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.), Angie Craig (D., Minn.), Jeff Van Drew (D., N.J.), Andy Kim (D., N.J.), Tom Malinowski (D., N.J.), Xochitl Torres Small (D., N.M.), Susie Lee (D., Nev.), Max Rose (D., N.Y.), Kendra Horn (D., Okla.), Colin Allred (D., Texas), Ben McAdams (D., Utah), and Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.).

Lee has called a failure to pass a budget "unacceptable." Brindisi has argued, "If members of Congress can't do their jobs and pass a budget, they shouldn't get paid."

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy slammed Democrats for their inability to present a budget.

"Nancy Pelosi has said for a long time, show me your budget and you'll show me your values," McCarthy said. "They are a new majority and they aren't going to do a budget."