WASHINGTON — As newcomers to Congress, Northern New York's two House Democrats have little sway over the agenda they vote on — but they're taking some of the brunt of Republican criticism for not putting a budget resolution to a vote in the House this year.
The latest attack came from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which targeted Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, and dozens of other Democrats for failing to bring the budget to a vote.
Mr. Owens and Mr. Murphy have both said they want the House to vote on the measure, which sets guidelines for federal spending but does not have the force of law. Decades have passed since the House last failed to consider one.
"Why Hasn't Owens Ended His Runaway Spending Spree with a Responsible, Honest Budget?" the NRCC asked in a press release.
A spokesman for the NRCC, Greg Blair, acknowledged Thursday that Mr. Owens and Mr. Murphy can vote only on the bills that House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic leaders decide to bring to the floor. But with or without a budget, he said, the Democratic-controlled House has a spending problem.
"Despite the national debt reaching an all-time high of $13 trillion and unemployment being at a painful 9.7 percent, Washington Democrats continue to push forward with their reckless spending agenda," the NRCC said.
Mrs. Pelosi has said she intends to bring a budget resolution to a vote. But Democratic leaders have been reported to be under pressure from some Democrats not to do so because any budget resolution is bound to reflect deficits — something that Democrats are not eager to support in advance of the midterm elections.
Although it does not have the force of law, the budget resolution does impose overall spending limits on programs that, if exceeded in spending bills, can draw procedural objections during floor consideration in the House.
Mr. Owens said earlier this week that he has yet to hear from leaders about when the budget resolution might be considered, although the issue is a point of discussion among lawmakers.
As the budget resolution remains bogged down in uncertainty, both Mr. Owens and Mr. Murphy have sponsored legislation bolstering their responsible-budgeting credentials.
Mr. Owens represents Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis and Franklin counties, among other areas. Mr. Murphy's district is adjacent to Mr. Owens's and covers the eastern Adirondacks and part of the Hudson Valley.
Mr. Murphy on Wednesday praised House passage of a bill he sponsored to require that the Congressional Budget Office's cost estimates of each bill be published on the House clerk's website before consideration in the House. And he cosponsored legislation to balance the federal budget and reduce the federal budget deficit by $350 billion over five years.
And while the budget resolution languishes, Mr. Murphy has voted in favor of such legislation as renewing pay-as-you-go rules, preventing overpayments in federal programs and blocking the annual congressional pay raise for 2011.
Mr. Owens introduced legislation to limit the federal debt and federal deficit based upon the nation's economic output, as well as to create savings bonds that would generate revenue to pay down the debt. He voted for legislation to streamline military weapons acquisition and also supported blocking the congressional pay raise.