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Domenici foils Democrats in budget power play

Domenici October 21, 1995
Web posted at: 1:40 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee abruptly recessed a hearing on the budget reconciliation bill Friday in a game of one-upmanship with Democrats who had planned to walk out.

Chairman Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, gaveled the place down after the ranking Democrat, Sen. James Exon, D-Nebraska, asked for testimony on the Republican budget from four witnesses. The witnesses included a person in a wheelchair and a woman who says her child has "never been out of the hospital."

"We all know what this is about," Domenici said, refusing to allow the testimony or a vote on overturning his decision.

The Democrats appeared to be surprised by Domenici's decision to end the committee meeting. They had notified reporters before the session that they intended to walk out, if, as they predicted, the Republicans barred their witnesses from speaking.

Witnesses are rarely, if ever, called when the budget committee puts a reconciliation bill together. It is basically a paperwork chore of assembling the various spending and tax cut bills. The bill covers welfare reform, Medicaid, Medicare and tax cuts.

The maneuvering was not expected to have a major impact. The Democrats cannot stop the budget committee from sending the reconciliation bill to the floor of the Senate next week. Debate on the reconciliation bill and a vote on it are expected by the end of next week.


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