Time-out on fund-raising

Surprise! Congress’ latest attempt at bipartisanship is off to a rancorous start.

Partisan wrangling followed the very first announcement of appointments to the joint congressional committee tasked with reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Reince Priebus, chairman of t

he Republican National Committee, objected to the appointment of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to co-chair the committee, citing her role as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In that post, she works as Senate Democrats’ campaigner- and money-solicitor-in-chief.

“The select committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fund-raising and politics,” Priebus said.

Typical partisan sniping? Not this time. We think Priebus makes a valid point.

Serving in both capacities creates a potential conflict of interest for Murray, one that shouldn’t stand in the way of the critically important work the joint committee must complete by Thanksgiving.

Failure to reach a deficit-reduction agreement, which would get an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate, would trigger blunt cuts to defense and social programs neither side wants. Both sides must be willing to give on issues their constituencies hold dear — for Democrats, protecting benefits in entitlement programs; for Republicans, avoiding higher taxes.

The notion that Murray could buy into a compromise with Republicans, one that might include cutting programs near and dear to Democratic donors’ hearts, just as she’s asking those supporters for money, seems a stretch.

Priebus called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to withdraw Murray’s appointment to the committee. We suggest a different solution: She should step down from her campaign post, at least until the joint committee’s work is finished.

The committee’s other members should also refrain from fund-raising while their work progresses. Hopes for this committee’s success lie in its members’ ability to make politically painful choices. It’s hard to see them doing so while spending time in the partisan echo chamber of campaign politics.

Fund-raising concerns aside, Murray’s appointment to the joint committee is a good choice. She is steeped in budget issues, currently serving on both the budget and appropriations committees — she chairs the appropriations subcommittee that deals with transportation and housing — and has been an outspoken advocate for veterans.

She’s not known as a budget cutter. But that’s what this committee must do, along with finding ways to boost tax revenues (preferably by closing loopholes and reforming the tax code), which the committee’s Republicans will likely resist.

All the committee’s members, Democrat and Republican, will be expected to make choices their supporters will hate. It’s hard to imagine any of them doing so while asking those supporters for money.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, left, and Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, right, embrace after a special session to figure out how much to punish drug possession on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Olympia, Wash. Without action, Washington's drug possession law will expire July 1, leaving no penalty in state law and leaving cities free to adopt a hodgepodge of local ordinances.  (Karen Ducey/The Seattle Times via AP)
Editorial: Robinson smart choice to head Senate budget panel

A 10-year legislative veteran, the Everett senator displays a mastery of legislation and negotiation.

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Sept. 26

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Randall Tharp’s month recovery coins after battling a fentanyl addiction.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fentanyl crisis should force rethinking of approach

A continuum of care, that includes treatment in jails, is imperative, says a journalist and author.

Flowers bloom on the end of a dead tree on Spencer Island on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Restore salmon habitat but provide view of its work

Comments are sought on a plan to restore fish habitat to the island east of Everett with popular trails.

School buses need seat belts and limits on capacity

My name is Grace Davis and I am a seventh-grade middle schooler… Continue reading

Congress must reauthorize funding act for Alzheimer’s research

With more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 120,000… Continue reading

Comment: Democrats have nothing to gain by backing Menendez

Unlike the loss of Al Franken, encouraging the New Jersey senator to go doesn’t cost the Democrats much.

Comment: Amid union victories, labor still faces big challenges

Federal regulations, such as the Taft-Hartley Act, have long stymied labor’s efforts to gain members.

Comment: Desantis’ $2 gas pledge should terrify Texas

He can’t get there unless oil is trading below $55 a barrel; nobdy wants to revisit those days.

Most Read