Three months after the White House and House Republicans had a bitter tussle over which day President Obama would be allowed to present his now-languishing jobs agenda to a joint session of Congress, the GOP is using another major presidential speech to make a point. This time it will be easier to understand: Republicans have scheduled the State of the Union address for January 24, which just happens to be the 1,000-day mark since Senate Democrats last approved a federal budget.
According to the Congressional Research Service and PolitiFact, the last time that the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a budget was April 29, 2009. Since then, the federal government has been operating on makeshift continuing resolutions.
Why? Democratic officials say it would have been a waste of time to debate other budget bills because they believed the GOP would try to load them up with political gimmicks. "It takes two to tango, and Republicans aren't interested in working in good faith," says Jim Manley, former spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "It used to be that there would be debate on budgets, but Republicans aren't interested in legislating at all. They want to score cheap political points."
Republicans, especially those associated with the Tea Party, have been assailing Democrats in the Senate for not bringing a budget to a vote, using it as an example of their claim that Senate Democrats, not House Republicans, are to blame for Washington's dysfunction. [See the latest political cartoons.]
For House Republicans, the 1,000-day mark highlights two major complaints they have with Senate Democrats. First, the House has passed budgets, but they have died in the Senate, where support is weak for conservative initiatives. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
Second, it gives the House GOP another chance to claim that while Obama blames them for Washington inaction, they have passed multiple bills, including over a dozen to add new jobs, but it's the president's party that's blocking action. Republicans hope to rap the president with the 1,000-day issue as a way to offset any public anger that might come from his effort to run against a "do-nothing" Congress.