Republicans Quietly Talk About Skipping Next Budget

After the Ryan-Murray deal set spending limits for the year, House Republicans question whether they need to produce a budget.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, presents his budget plan during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Tim Alberta Billy House
Jan. 16, 2014, 12:05 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans are quietly dis­cuss­ing the op­tion of not writ­ing a budget in 2014, a man­euver that would free up time on the le­gis­lat­ive cal­en­dar and pro­tect GOP law­makers from a po­ten­tially dam­aging vote in an elec­tion year.

The idea of Re­pub­lic­ans skip­ping this year’s budget­ary pro­cess seems odd when con­sid­er­ing the House GOP made his­tory last year by at­tach­ing a policy rider called “No Budget, No Pay” to a debt-lim­it ex­ten­sion. That meas­ure tied law­makers’ salar­ies to budgets be­ing writ­ten in both cham­bers and paved the way for a budget agree­ment between House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an and Sen­ate Budget Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray.

But un­be­knownst to some law­makers at the time — and still some today — is that “No Budget, No Pay” was a one-year pro­vi­sion. It is now ex­pired. This, com­bined with the fact that Ry­an-Mur­ray set spend­ing fig­ures for the next fisc­al year any­how, has some House Re­pub­lic­ans won­der­ing if a budget­ing pro­cess this year is really ne­ces­sary.

“There are folks in the Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence who don’t want to pass a budget this year,” said Rep. Mick Mul­vaney of South Car­o­lina, who dis­ap­proves of the idea. Asked to ex­plain his col­leagues’ reas­on­ing, Mul­vaney mim­icked: “We’ve already got a 302A num­ber; why do we need a budget? Ry­an-Mur­ray set a num­ber; why would we need to have a budget?”

A seni­or House GOP lead­er­ship aide con­firmed there is a push com­ing from “polit­ic­al types” for House Re­pub­lic­ans not to get en­gaged with a budget this year for fisc­al 2015.

“Yes, there’s been some of that,” the aide said. The staffer iden­ti­fied some of those in­stig­at­ing such talk as people at the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. But he said he be­lieved it is not get­ting much “trac­tion” among House GOP lead­ers or mem­bers.

When pressed about such talk, NR­CC Chair­man Greg Walden dis­missed it, say­ing he be­lieves the House GOP will do a budget this spring. “I think we’re fully headed in the dir­ec­tion of do­ing a budget. I think it’s re­quired by law,” Walden said.

John Boehner’s spokes­man, Mi­chael Steel, agreed: “House Re­pub­lic­ans in­tend to pass a budget this year.”

It makes sense for GOP cam­paign op­er­at­ives to make such a push, ac­cord­ing to sev­er­al GOP law­makers who asked not to be quoted on the sub­ject. The pre­vi­ous Re­pub­lic­an budgets passed by Ry­an’s com­mit­tee and ad­op­ted by the House have been so ideo­lo­gic­ally charged, they ex­plained, that some Re­pub­lic­ans think it’s time — es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year — to avoid any po­lar­iz­ing votes that would hand am­muni­tion to the Demo­crats.

But such a pass­ive ap­proach won’t fly with con­ser­vat­ives in the GOP con­fer­ence. As with health care re­form, pri­vacy le­gis­la­tion, and tax re­form, the hard-liners in the party are ur­ging House lead­er­ship to ad­opt their “bold” ideas — not just on pa­per, but on the House floor.

“It’s one thing to say we’re for this; it’s an­oth­er thing to say we’re for this so much we’re will­ing to take a vote on it, and de­bate it, and take the ar­rows that the oth­er side is go­ing to sling at us,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. “I think that’s im­port­ant in an elec­tion year.”

The con­gres­sion­al timetable sets April 15 as the dead­line for com­plet­ing ac­tion on the an­nu­al budget res­ol­u­tion.

Sen­ate Demo­crats have not in­dic­ated wheth­er they plan to write an­oth­er budget this year, and Mur­ray’s of­fice de­clined to shed light on the sub­ject when asked about the chair­wo­man’s plans.

Ry­an spokes­man Wil­li­am Al­lis­on said, “We don’t have any an­nounce­ments to make at this time.” But he ad­ded, “It is Chair­man Ry­an’s in­tent to again put for­ward a bal­anced budget.”

Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, co­chair of the “Tues­day Group” of mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, said he doubted any such “no-budget” man­euver was ser­i­ously be­ing con­sidered in the House. At the same time, Dent and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans sug­ges­ted that ig­nor­ing the budget pro­cess one year after “No Budget, No Pay” could ap­pear blatantly hy­po­crit­ic­al.

Rep. James Lank­ford, the Re­pub­lic­an Policy Com­mit­tee chair­man and a mem­ber of GOP lead­er­ship, said mem­bers have been ap­proach­ing him re­cently to ask if, in fact, they can get away without do­ing a budget this year.

“Yes, there is still stat­utory re­spons­ib­il­ity to do a budget,” Lank­ford said. “Now, if a budget is not done, it’s true that a budget num­ber is deemed…. That num­ber is set. But the ar­gu­ment’s not about the budget it­self; the ar­gu­ment’s really about a vis­ion. How do we fix the long term de­fi­cit? You’re not resolv­ing that without a budget.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
21 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
22 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×