The U.S. Senate is considered the most exclusive club in the world, but one of the 100 members said Wednesday he worries about contentious issues being discussed in private meetings between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, giving members little input and little time to look at the result.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said negotiations about the deal for the so-called fiscal cliff, about health care and about other major issues were handled in private. And, with more potentially divisive issues on the horizon, Sessions does not expect them to be handled differently.
The senator said talks about spending and other fiscal issues will “probably end up with private, secret negotiations going on again.” He said he is warning people about important national issues being addressed in private meetings.
Sessions said the fiscal cliff deal was brought out after midnight on Jan. 1 and “no one had really read the thing.”
“I should have voted against it for that reason,” he said of the deal coming out late.
But Sessions was the only Republican in the Alabama delegation who voted for the bill resolving the so-called fiscal cliff issue for now.
Sessions said Obama, in the deal, was able to secure a tax increase without spending cuts. The senator said the deal included most of what he wanted to see in extending the so-called Bush tax cuts.
“I accepted the fact that the spending discussions would have to be later. I guess a lot of people didn’t,” he said.
Sessions said “I think a lot of my friends and supporters misunderstood the nature of the vote.”
“It was an absolute fact that a vote against that bill was a vote to raise taxes on everybody,” he said.
Sessions said Obama could have blocked any proposal but those that raised “taxes for the rich.”
“We had to do something, I felt,” he said.
Sessions said Republicans will have platforms in the coming weeks to discuss spending. He said the budget would be the best platform to discuss issues related to the debt ceiling and appropriations.
Sessions said the Senate should spend its time discussing fiscal issues and said the “Senate would be a great forum.”
He said that Republicans must insist on spending reductions during those talks.
Sessions said Obama has been successful in conveying his message. He said Republicans need to convey their message in a manner that gains public support.
Sessions said the nation is on a course of unsustainable debt and that there will need to be “some real change to get on the right course.”
“I don’t see how the president can justify not telling the American people we have an entitlement problem or a systemic debt problem,” he said. “ … He won’t even tell the American people straight up that this is a dangerous course that we are on and it needs to be fixed.”
Sessions said there will be battles over spending in the coming months.
“I don’t know how it will come out,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough spring.”
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen