Democrats criticize emerging budget deal
By: Ginger Gibson
December 5, 2013 04:19 PM EST
Top House Democrats are unhappy with elements of an emerging budget deal that they say abandons the party’s principles.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top House Democrat on the budget conference committee, is upset that the budget deal might not include a call for new taxes. The framework, being negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), would likely raise revenue from fee increases.
Van Hollen said such an arrangement amounts to abandoning the middle class.
“As these talks have unnecessarily dragged on these priorities are at risk of being left behind,” the Maryland Democrat said.
Van Hollen also took a shot at budget negotiators for considering an increase in Transportation Security Administration fees but not closing a tax loophole that allows private jets to receive a tax deduction.
“It’s hard for us to understand why Republicans would say it’s a great idea to raise fees on the traveling public when they won’t take away these,” he said.
(Also on POLITICO: Paul Ryan’s bipartisan budget moment?)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) strongly criticized reports that the budget negotiators are considering reducing federal employee pension contributions to help offset the sequester. Hoyer’s suburban Washington district is home to a large concentration of federal employees.
“I think it’s inappropriate, absent a big deal in which you’re dealing with all segments of savings and investments,” Hoyer said.
Murray and Ryan are nearing a deal that would put in place spending levels for the next year and replace parts of the sequester. They have until Dec. 13 to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stopped short of saying a deal on the budget must include a one-year extension of expanded unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month. So far, unemployment benefits aren’t being considered as part of the budget deal.
(Also on POLITICO: How the GOP lost its nerve on tax reform)
If that continues to be the case, Pelosi said the extension of expanded unemployment benefits should be included in a separate piece of legislation by the end of the month. Pelosi said she didn’t think budget negotiators were leaving it out because they don’t care about the jobless.
“We have to assume that they care, so we just had to make sure that they know,” Pelosi said.