FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Jeff Sessions should be Budget Committee Chair
With the Republicans taking over the Senate for the 114th Congress, it is vitally important that our party puts the right people in charge of the chamber’s committees. All too often, the major committees, especially those dealing with money, are chaired by squishy Establishment types who will never put up a real fight for fiscal conservatism when they should. With the upcoming Congress, we have an opportunity to get things right by having a staunch conservative chair one of them.
Right now, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 88% of Alabama is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. Theoretically, unless he chooses to give up his seat on that committee, you’d think it would follow that he’d become the chair of it when Congress reconvenes this January. However, for reasons mostly insignificant to us but apparently very important to the tradition-bound Senate, fellow Budget Committee member Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming has precedence and seniority over Sessions when it comes to appointing committee chairs. No one will mistake Enzi for a Liberal, but he has not been as outspoken and eloquent about the important fiscal issues of the day as Senator Sessions is. We know that Senator Sessions has a long history of standing up for conservatism, and we can be sure he will represent us well as chair. The National Review lays out Sessions’ track record well in their editorial endorsing him for the spot:
He has a track record of real success, as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and now the Budget Committee. In 2007 and 2013, his relentless opposition — including floor speeches, reports, and other acts of public and private advocacy — played a central role in defeating so-called comprehensive immigration reform. On the Judiciary Committee, he mustered substantial opposition to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, something predecessors had not managed to do in similar circumstances.
He has done an exceptional job on budget issues, explaining complicated fiscal matters to voters and colleagues. In particular, Sessions unremittingly attacked his Democratic counterparts on the Budget Committee for not writing or releasing a budget on their own, as the law required. After more than 1,000 days of lassitude, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 0% finally relented: Sessions forced the party of tax increases and debt accumulation to go on record as such by passing a budget resolution. The senator has also made a priority of welfare reform, applying research and rhetoric to push for conservative, work-focused approaches to social spending.
As Obama heads into the final two years of his Presidency, he is unencumbered by by the prospect of facing voters again at the ballot box because of term limits. As such, it is entirely possible, even probable, that he will try to embrace a few Liberal pet projects and causes. It is important that we have the right men in charge of Congress to do what they can to stop him. As the executive order for amnesty has shown, rejection, or the threat of it, by Congress will not always stop Obama from trying to enact his agenda, but that’s no reason for us not to put up the best fight we can in Congress.
Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal accurately notes that the chairmanship of this committee could affect the 2016 Presidential race. They explain:
At least four Senate Republicans have are said to be considering a run for the White House: Sens. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 94% of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 88% of Kentucky, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 34% of Ohio, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% of Texas. A budget vote will be a statement of principle for any White House contender, and those decisions can’t be made lightly. With Senate Republicans holding a narrow majority, the budget committee chairman will have to mollify presidential contenders and rank-and-file members.
Will Mr. Paul vote for a budget resolution that increases military spending if Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 51% (R., Ariz.) refuses to vote for a budget resolution that cuts military spending? Will Mr. Cruz vote for a budget resolution that doesn’t explicitly call for repealing the Affordable Care Act? Will Mr. Rubio vote for a budget resolution that doesn’t follow his model of consolidating welfare spending? If the budget resolution reflects the wishes of the party’s more conservative members, will it risk losing members like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 19% (R., Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 34% (R., Alaska)?
All four are freshmen Senators, and except for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 34%, they don’t have a long track record of positions on fiscal issues in elected politics at the federal level. Since all four are potential Presidential candidates, it is important that we get them to go on the record and take a position on the major budgetary issues of the next two years. We can be sure that a Sessions-led committee will do that.
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) 63% is not a bad choice for the chairmanship. If all the committee leadership decisions were like this, Washington would be a lot better place, but we know that, Senator Sessions will not shy away from standing up for conservatism, even if it means standing up to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 54% and the rest of the GOP leadership. His career has shown us this. Enzi, whatever, his conservative bona fides, hasn’t proven this as consistently or as vocally as Sessions has.
So, let’s make Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 88% the next Senate Budget Committee Chairman.