Republicans have been railing against the failure of the House to pass a budget this year, with one House GOP leader erupting after President Obama sent a request Saturday night for $50 billion more in deficit spending to help financially-strapped states.
"The spending spree in Washington is continuing to run unabated. The American people are screaming at the top of their lungs, 'Stop!' And to move this without finding other offsets in spending, I think, is irresponsible," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Boehner said he agrees with the president that the states may need help to keep from laying off teachers, firemen and policemen, but argues spending should be cut elsewhere to free up the $50 billion.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer agreed, and suggested taking it from unspent stimulus money rather than running up more debt:
"I think it's accurate that there's spending fatigue, not only on Capitol Hill, but around the country. People are concerned about the debt level, and, we are as well," he said.
Boehner and others have been complaining for days the Democratic leadership in the House has not yet passed a budget -- for the first time in more than 35 years.
Boehner even invoked the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who said last week the deficit is "unsustainable."
"Chairman (Ben) Bernanke also expressed his concern that Congress has no exit strategy in place to get out of this mess," Boehner said. "No strategy, no plan, and not even a budget."
Democrats have not been able to pass a budget in part because some want large deficit spending to help those hurt by the recession, as Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois explained.
"With so many people out of work, they're not paying taxes. They need services, unemployment for example. Help with paying health insurance. And so it's tough," he said.
Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, added that he hopes "we can get to this budget resolution or find a path forward very soon."
But other Democrats say they fear running up even more debts when voters are already enraged by deficit spending.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute says there are some Democrats who think that if they pass a budget with too large numbers and increase the deficit, then they're going to be voted out of office come November.
The dilemma is apparent to the administration as well. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag offered one explanation why the White House doesn't just identify spending cuts it wants and send them to Democratic leaders in Congress.
"It just comes down to a question of whether it's a fruitless exercise because you have a very low probability of success in the current environment," he said.
And Furchtgott-Roth says the lack of a budget is "especially remarkable because we have the House, the Senate, the presidency all with one party. They're all under the control of the Democrats, she says, so one would think that they could all get it together and decide on a budget, pass it, send it to the president for his signature."
But never fear. The absence of a budget doesn't keep Congress from spending. The money-keeps rolling out, borrowed, at the rate of approximately 43 cents of every dollar.