By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, the Congressional Conference Committee met for the first time. This committee was assigned to bridge the vast philosophical differences between the competing Senate and House budgets before the government needs to either pass a budget or another Continuing Resolution. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama is the ranking Republican member on the committee.
Sen. Sessions told the conference committee:
“For the past five years, we have had record deficits. This was the Democratic vision for restoring vigorous growth and lasting prosperity… It has not worked. Never has so great a sum been spent for so little in return:
• Take-home pay has fallen for each of the last five years • Median household income is lower today than at any time since 1996…
• The labor force dropout rate is the highest it’s been since 1945 • We have the lowest labor force participation rate in 35 years
• We have 12 million more residents than we did in 2007 but 2 million fewer workers What we should do is create a growth-oriented tax system that makes America more competitive, eliminate unnecessary regulations, produce more American energy, ensure fair trade so our workers can fairly compete, enforce an immigration policy that serves our national interest, reject large government programs that kill jobs, and balance the budget to restore confidence in the future of America.
These are common-sense proposals that will work. These ideas are consistent with the American ideals that have served us so well.”
Sen. Sessions said, after being appointed as the lead Republican for the Senate minority on the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee:
“I am honored to have been chosen to serve on the Budget Conference Committee. I believe the members of the Committee will seek to act in the nation’s long-term interest, and I hope we can find some common ground. Our nation’s spending and debt has surged beyond control. In the last five years, Washington spent more than $15 trillion and added more than $6 trillion to the debt. Never has so great a sum been spent for so little in return…The idea that we can tax, borrow, and spend our way to prosperity is simply false. It will not be easy to reverse these deep and damaging trends, as Republicans and Democrats have serious philosophical disagreements over the proper role of government. But good faith efforts can surely make improvements, and perhaps even make very significant improvements in the long-term financial situation of our country. That should be our goal.”
The Senate and House of Representatives have both passed budgets earlier this year after rejecting the Obama administration’s budget. This is the first Senate passed budget since 2009. The members of the conference committee include, co-chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R) from Wisconsin and Sen. Patty Murray (D) from Washington and ranking members Sen. Sessions and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) from Maryland. The conference committee was agreed to to end the government shutdown earlier in the month. The conference committee is tasked with attempting to reconcile both budgets to improve the nation’s financial outlook.
The conference committee needs to produce a budget that both the Republican controlled House and Democratic controlled Senate can agree on and which will be signed by President Obama. The bill to fund the government expires on January 15th and the debt ceiling will be hit by February 7. The minority leader in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell (R) from Kentucky has vowed that there will not be another government shutdown.
The national debt is aproximately $17 trillion.
Senator Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions was elected in 1996 after having served as Alabama’s Attorney General.