Senate budget chairwoman: Senate will pass a budget

"Now that Congress is back in session, we are ready to get to work,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday. "Now that Congress is back in session, we are ready to get to work,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday. Ted S. Warren/AP file photo

The Senate’s new Budget Committee chairwoman says that the chamber will act on a budget plan this spring for the first time in four years.

“I’ve been discussing this path with my colleagues in the weeks since the year-end deal, before I officially became chairman of this committee, and now that Congress is back in session, we are ready to get to work,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Her announcement comes just hours before the Republican-led House is set to vote on a plan to temporarily suspend the federal debt limit through mid-May, which also contains a proposal that would require the Democratic-controlled Senate to adopt a budget by April 15 or see lawmakers’ pay held in escrow.

The White House on Tuesday said it would not oppose the measure, but Murray’s announcement seems to take some of the bite out of the Republican effort to focus attention on the Senate’s not having passed a budget since 2009.

Senate Democrats argue that passage of the 2011 Budget Control Act, which set spending caps through 2013, rendered separate budget plans unnecessary.

“This year, following the two years that the bipartisan Budget Control Act took the place of a congressional budget, the Senate will once again return to regular order and move a budget resolution through the Budget Committee and to the Senate floor,” Murray said. A budget resolution is a spending blueprint or “framework” for each fiscal year, paving the way for Congress to take up the 13 annual appropriations bills due on Oct. 1.

Murray was confident that Democratic priorities set out in a budget will win when compared and contrasted publicly with those promoted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“We know that when our priorities are laid out next to Republicans’, the public stands with us,” Murray said.

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