For nearly a month, House Republican leaders said they expected about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts in exchange for a debt-ceiling increase. As of Friday, they presented an entirely different demand: the GOP wants Senate Democrats to draft a budget blueprint for the first time in a long while.
With this mind, I imagine Republicans were at least relatively pleased with what they heard from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
Schumer actually made a little news on the program, announcing that Senate Democrats will not only move forward on a budget plan -- he said "it's going to be a great opportunity for us" -- he added that the caucus has "always intended to do a budget this year." In other words, they're not doing this because the House GOP asked for it; they were prepared to write a budget blueprint anyway.
In fact, Schumer sounded rather ambitious on this front, talking up a budget plan that will include tax reform and new revenues, while addressing looming sequestration cuts, all in advance of the March 1 deadline.
And what about the 60-vote threshold Senate Republicans apply to just about everything? It won't matter -- under budget reconciliation rules, the plan would not be subject to a filibuster, and could pass the chamber with 51 votes.
I can appreciate why this seems like inside baseball, but it's actually pretty important -- the efforts Schumer described yesterday are intended to not only cut off the sequester, but also avoid a government shutdown in the Spring if there's a compromise with the House. Suzy Khimm published a helpful summary of the larger budget picture.