House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday unveiled a 2013 budget that cuts discretionary spending below the level agreed with Democrats last year, setting up another deep partisan split on spending and tax issues that makes a budget deal nearly impossible before the November elections.
Ryan’s budget sets discretionary spending at $1.028 trillion for fiscal year 2013, less than the $1.047 trillion cap Republicans and Democrats passed into law seven months ago. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, on Monday said the abandonment of the caps agreed under the Budget Control Act would amount to “a breach of faith that will make it more difficult to negotiate further agreements.”
The GOP’s budget requires the Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means committees to identify areas for spending or revenue changes to achieve the lower overall discretionary spending level.
Ryan defended the decision to go below the cap on mathematical grounds, explaining in the budget that $1.047 trillion was a “pre-sequester spending cap” but that “Congress is no longer operating in a pre-sequester world.”
House Speaker John Boehner’s office has been laying the groundwork for a lower topline for weeks, sending out e-mail blasts reminding Democrats that a “cap” represents a spending ceiling, rather than a floor, but the days-long pre-emptive effort by the GOP to get ahead of the criticism undermines Ryan's attempt to cast his budget as a bipartisan plan.
Conrad planned to file a budget deeming resolution Tuesday setting the fiscal year 2013 spending limits and budget enforcement levels for the Senate at the levels agreed for 2013 last year.