December 12th, 2012
09:27 PM ET
1 year ago

Senator frustrated over 'secret process'

(CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama who serves on the Senate Budget Committee, said Congress has been left in the dark on the process of on-going budget negotiations.

Sessions told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield appearing on "OutFront" he knows "almost nothing" about the negotiations between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner to find common ground to avoid the looming fiscal crisis.

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When asked what he knows about the negotiations, Sessions said "very little" adding that the only information he knows comes from sources who told him "speaker was disappointed and things were not moving forward."

Lawmakers in Washington have until the end of the year to reach a deal on how to tame the nation's growing debt or a series of automatic federal spending cuts and tax rate hikes will go into place, risking another economic recession.

While both sides agree that revenue must be raised in order to keep the fiscal crisis at bay, the sticking point is a means to generate it. Obama and many Democrats believe tax rates should be allowed to go up on wealthier individuals and stay at the current rates for those making less than $250,000 per year. Republicans generally advocate for allowing the current rates to extend for all tax brackets and push to closing tax loopholes and limit deductions to generate revenue.

"I really think the classic understanding of the way Congress should operate is being undermined because we're not having committees; we're not having amendments; we're not having votes; we're not having debates; we're just sitting here waiting for the president and the speaker to tell us what to do, apparently," he said, adding that the ones losing in the "secret process" are the American people.

But while a deal remains out of sight, progress also appears to have been made earlier this week. Obama and Boehner spoke by phone Tuesday after House Republican leaders sent a counter-offer on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. The Republicans' proposal comes after the Obama administration sent a proposal to Boehner on Monday.


Filed under: 2012 • Fiscal Cliff • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. RebeccaJx

    Sessions has been in the dark, and he always will be. LOL

    December 12, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. anon

    Sessions has been in office since 1997. That means he voted for the Patriot Act, without reading it. He voted for the $800B bailout, without reading it. So he pretty much follows whatever the Republican leadership tells him to do. Just another political scumbag, without any morals or brains.

    December 12, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. Jay

    "Democrats believe tax rates should be allowed to go up on wealthier individuals and stay at the current rates for those making less than $250,000 per year." Mistates the facts. It is not for those making less than $250,000. It is for everyone at up to $250,000 and then a higher rate after that. Seems CNN could get something that simple reported correctly.

    December 12, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. Brfarmer

    Senator Sessions – Why on earth President Obama and Speaker Boehner try to include you or any of the other legislators? How much time have you had to resolve the issues? Has the process and non-functioning colleagues accomplished anything – take a look – has the House and Senate passed a budget? Clearly, the House nor the Senate are able to function as grown ups – it is appropriate that you are treated as children.

    December 12, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. Jim Russell

    Sessions is as dim as a small appliance bulb. Best he's left out of any discussions above 2nd grade recess activity choices.

    December 12, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. john

    Boehner will lose his position as Speaker if he caves in to Obama. He will lose face with the American people as well set the Republican Party back ten years. No to Obama. Let them sweat.

    December 12, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  7. Nobody

    Complain all you want, times a wasting, you guys had time to sort it in the "classic" way; you drug your feet. You do not have time for committees, and pondering, you had many years to get that together; now it is time for decisive action. Your outmoded party line posturing (both parties) has failed MISERABLY.
    Personally I don't like the way it's being handled either, but better this, than not handled at all.
    I would prefer if everyone on capital hill were replaced with people that are there to serve the citizens, not there to posture endlessly as the country collapses.
    Bottom line, you had your chance to shit or get off the pot; it's now been taken out of your incapable hands.

    December 12, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. taxbite

    "...we're not having committees; we're not having amendments; we're not having votes; we're not having debates; we're just sitting here waiting..."
    H-E-L-L-O, and how is this different from what Congress was doing BEFORE the elections?!? You people have known about the situation for –Hmmm, let me see - YEARS, and now you want to complaint about not being 'involved'. Oh, Please!

    December 12, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. Same Old

    Incompetent men unable to make the right decisions year upon year. You were just told what to do by the people, yet you refuse to listen. Choosing (as always) to serve your " special interests" instead. Please quit your prentending and stop your whining. Just go home like you always do, getting nothing accomplished for the good of the people you pretend to serve..... Or actually choose to
    listen, take a walk to the speaker's office and teach him to understand that the budget choice has already been made for you.

    December 12, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Dr. RD

    "I really think the classic understanding of the way Congress should operate is being undermined because we're not having committees; we're not having amendments; we're not having votes; we're not having debates; we're just sitting here..." Sounds like nothing has changed since 08'. Thanks for the update Sessions...

    December 12, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Eric Boyer

    Typical Jeff Sessions, can't lead, can only stir up trouble. If he were a credible representative he might be at that table. Instead he snivels on TV about secret meetings and grand conspiracies.

    December 12, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  12. All republicans are neo nazis so progagit is no surprise

    Session could at any point in the past two years and at anypoint going forward offer his plan. He sits on the budget committee but this no nothing blowhard has spent his entire carrer as a blathering bs artist. Mybe Sessions should get together with rand paul, Jim Demint and Mitch McConnel and propose that the fist step in cuts is a new spending rule that madates that no state receive federal spending that exceeds 80% of the total amount that state paid Federal Treasury in taxes in the previous year? The truth is Sessions, Demint and McConnely are three of the biggest WELFARE QUEENS in the Nation. Their three states are among the 6 biggest taker states – add in Sara Palin's Alaska and Sam Brownbacks Kansas and you've got a complete PIG TROUGH. These states ALL get more than $2 in federal spending for every $1 they pay in taxes.

    Message to the PIGS: We will no longer tolerate the attitude the ITS ONLY WELFARE IF SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT. Start at HOME PIGGY'S. CUT YOUR OWN SLOP FIRST.

    December 12, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Logic n LA

    Congressman- do your job and initiate those meetings and come up with a plan! You are correct- it's your job. the reason there are meeting taking place is because Congress is sitting on it's hands.

    December 12, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Senator Sessions is frustrated because no one considers him a "player" in the process. He's like the kid on the playground who yells "look at me, look at me" because he's desperate to be accepted and taken seriously.

    December 12, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  15. Dick

    So much for the open government this President promised in both runs. We really need term limits on all elected positions including the Supreme court. No one ever believed those on the S.C. would live so long and start governing by legal interpretation.

    December 12, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    This senator avoids the issue re – the filibuster or cloture voting forced by republicans over the last 3/4 years.
    The budget in fact 3 have been offered by the President and the house chose to ignore those virtually completely and re-write thier version of a budget and passed it to the senate, where of course it failed.
    He also ignores in the caase of budgets that they are via committes subject to a reconciliation process that's supposed to ensure compromise and passage of a budget.
    We all know well why that did not work Grover Norquist pledges and the ryan Budget decimating the middle class to pay for everything the previous Republican 8 years created. Remember ( check the math) those policies account for 50 % of the debt increase during Obama's 1st term.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    December 12, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  17. MadSat

    Its obvious why it's being done this way, the far right wants nothing but tax cuts for everyone and let the chips fall, the far left wants nothing but tax increases and let the chips fall, the moderates are outnumbered and bullied and have no power. Result, secret talks where the radicals can't start screaming until it's already on the floor.

    December 13, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  18. HenryB

    Why include the senate? The senate has made itself irrelevant. If it was the deliberative body it used to be, perhaps they would play a more central role. Besides, it is the House that will have to convince its rabid fringe members to support a compromise.

    December 13, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  19. Gregory M. Newbold

    This senator, Sessions, has been openly disrespectful of the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Although all would deny it. his being kept in the dark is part of the price he pays for said behavior. It was his arrogance that put him in the dark and I feel no sympathy for him and others like him.

    Media/ reporters need to get some brass ones and stop REPEATING the GOP "talking point, " Boehner/ Republicans "PUT REVENUE ON THE TABLE", as though this is some great concession. It is NOT. They had zERO choice. The President campaigned on this and WON. Translation: the American people told Boehner he`d BETTER do it. The media needs to stop the "False Equivalency" prose; the GOP is yet to "COMPROMISE".

    The GOP favors LIMITING loopholes & deductions because they still want to provide wiggle room for the rich to evade taxes. A 39.6% top rate and restoring Capital Gains tax rates to pre-Bush levels [read: budget surplus levels] is a more certain and dependable way of raising revenue. If Mr. Obama falls for the smoke & mirrors of "limiting deductions" he might as well sign onto "tax cuts create jobs".

    December 13, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  20. TomInRochNY

    By negotiating with the president directly maybe speaker Boehner is trying to keep the lobbyists out of the process. That would be a major miracle.

    December 13, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  21. Disgusted

    Oh Senator Sessions. You actually expected to know what was going on? Come on now. You saw how Obama operated with the secrecy surrounding Obamacare. No one is supposed to know anything, like Ms. Pelosi says, "until we pass the bill." I guess people like that though. They don't really care what happens to the US. It was a good country.

    December 13, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |