Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) called a last-minute Republican plan to conference on a short-term resolution to fund the government ironic given the GOP's steadfast refusal to return "regular order" as requested by Democrats over a dozen times since April.
"We asked to go to conference on the budget 18 times, and Republicans said no," the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Monday night, minutes before a government shutdown.
In the normal budget process, the Senate and House appoint lawmakers as conferees to a conference committee where differences between appropriation bills can be ironed out. Senate Democrats have been asking for a return to such regular order for months.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, added that a return to regular order was preferable -- but not at the expense of a government shutdown.
"We are eager to go to conference on the budget anytime, but let's not shut down the government to get there," he said at a press conference.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also ruled out a conference committee with House Republicans unless they send a clean six week continuing resolution to the Senate, gaveling out the upper chamber until Tuesday morning.