No Doubt: Cantor Says House Republicans Will Do a Budget

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) makes remarks during a news briefing at the U.S. Captiol March 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. Cantor said that leaders from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have turned threats against Democrats who voted for the health care reform package into a political issue.
National Journal
Billy House
March 21, 2014, 1:17 p.m.

Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor said Fri­day that House Re­pub­lic­ans will, in fact, pro­duce a budget res­ol­u­tion this year.

Speak­er John Boehner said so last month. But doubts per­sisted, and some Re­pub­lic­ans even sug­ges­ted it would be bet­ter not to do one.

But in a memo sent out Fri­day by Can­tor to fel­low House Re­pub­lic­ans about the re­main­ing March and April agenda, he wrote, “We owe it to the Amer­ic­an people to demon­strate how we will al­loc­ate their tax dol­lars and bal­ance the budget.”

The House doesn’t ne­ces­sar­ily have to touch the budget is­sue, be­cause the two-year budget agree­ment already set top-line num­bers for 2015. Demo­crats who con­trol the Sen­ate already have said they won’t pass their own budget res­ol­u­tion.

However, without spe­cify­ing a date for when the House will ac­tu­ally vote on such a spend­ing blue­print, Can­tor in his memo went on to write, “While the pres­id­ent’s budget blows past the spend­ing lim­it pre­vi­ously agreed to, the House Re­pub­lic­an budget, un­der the lead­er­ship of [Budget Com­mit­tee] Chair­man Paul Ry­an, will ad­here to the agreed-upon spend­ing lim­its and bal­ance in 10 years.” Three oth­er bills touch­ing on budget re­form also will be taken up, he said.

Still, Can­tor’s an­nounce­ment comes amid nag­ging ques­tions about wheth­er such a plan could pass in the House, and wheth­er Re­pub­lic­ans should — or even have to — pro­duce a budget as they head to­ward Novem­ber’s elec­tions.

If such a budget ad­hered to spend­ing caps put in place by the two-year, $1.1 tril­lion budget deal passed in Decem­ber — which Ry­an helped cre­ate — pas­sage could be dif­fi­cult. Sixty-two House Re­pub­lic­ans voted against that meas­ure, mean­ing a sim­il­ar spend­ing plan would re­quire Demo­crat­ic sup­port for pas­sage. 

That could be a tough task if Re­pub­lic­ans turn their budget in­to a mes­saging vehicle that in­creases mil­it­ary spend­ing at the ex­pense of nondefense pro­grams, re­ject­ing the agreed-upon even split of $63 bil­lion in se­quester re­lief over two years.

Eli Zupnick, a spokes­man for Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray, said Fri­day, “The Mur­ray-Ry­an deal rolled back se­quest­ra­tion evenly between de­fense and non-de­fense and set clear spend­ing caps for each cat­egory for two years.”

“It would be un­for­tu­nate if the House reneged on that deal less than four months after it was agreed to and cre­ated un­cer­tainty in what should be a crisis-free budget pro­cess this year,” he said.

Even some Re­pub­lic­ans have sug­ges­ted not do­ing a budget, be­cause it could be a li­ab­il­ity with thorny de­tails that de­tract from broad­er, more con­cep­tu­al and suc­cess­ful Re­pub­lic­an at­tacks over the eco­nomy and Obama­care.

But oth­ers say an “as­pir­a­tion­al” budget filled with con­ser­vat­ive policy could draw more sup­port from the con­fer­ence and help in the elec­tion.

The con­gres­sion­al timetable sets the dead­line at April 15 — about three weeks away — for com­plet­ing ac­tion on the an­nu­al budget res­ol­u­tion for the new fisc­al year that starts Oct. 1.

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