By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON Jan 20 U.S. Senate Democrats for the
first time in more than three years will pass a budget, a senior
Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday, fulfilling a basic task that
Republicans have been urging them to do.
Senator Charles Schumer said, however, the spending plan
will include proposed new revenue despite Republican warnings
that they will not go along with any more tax increases.
"We're going to do a budget this year and it is going to
have revenue in it, and Republicans ought to get used to that,"
Schumer of New York, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, told NBC's
"Meet the Press."
President Barack Obama's Democrats control the Senate, but
have not passed a budget since 2010 amid disagreements within
the party over possible spending cuts, particularly in
entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
This has drawn the ire of Republicans who accuse them of a
dereliction of duty that has undermined efforts to reduce
spending and the U.S. debt.
Washington is expected to reach the limit of its $16.4
trillion borrowing power by early March, and lifting the debt
ceiling will allow the federal government to continue its work
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, in a
major concession on Friday, said they would be willing to raise
the debt limit for three months and, at the same time, drop
their demand that any increase in the government's borrowing
power be matched in spending cuts.
But Republicans said they would require the Senate to
finally pass a budget that could include spending reductions as
well as changes in the tax code.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, appearing on NBC with
Schumer, called the House Republican plan "a step in the right
direction" and accused the Democratic-led Senate of not doing
Schumer called the House Republican offer "a major victory"
for Obama, who has vowed to refuse to negotiate with Congress on
the debt limit.
Besides, Schumer said, "We need a budget .... It's a great
opportunity to get us some more revenues."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has
said he is ready to focus on spending cuts in any budget
negotiations, but considers tax increases a closed matter. The
White House had said it would accept the three-month plan so
long as it was not conditioned on spending cuts.
After the deadline for the debt ceiling increase, Congress
faces a March 1 deadline to avert automatic spending cuts and a
March 27 expiration of funding for government agencies and
programs that could result in a partial federal shutdown.
A three-month debt limit extension would add a further
deadline in April or May.
The recent separate deal between Congress and the White
House to avert "the fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases on
most Americans and severe spending cuts imposed a tax hike on
many of the wealthiest Americans.
It renewed most tax cuts enacted by Republican President
George W. Bush, but allowed those tax cuts on families with
incomes of more than $450,000 to expire.