Should House Republicans Draft a Budget At All This Year?

They don’t have to, but Boehner is committed — and some see problems ahead.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
National Journal
Billy House Tim Alberta
Feb. 27, 2014, 10:16 a.m.

With Pres­id­ent Obama set to un­veil his fisc­al 2015 budget next week, Speak­er John Boehner said Thursday that House Re­pub­lic­ans, led by Rep. Paul Ry­an, will pro­duce their own com­plete, bal­anced spend­ing plan later this year.

“I cer­tainly ex­pect so,” Boehner said at a news con­fer­ence, and his of­fice says he hopes to bring the budget to the floor for a vote, too.

But there are ser­i­ous 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 dif­fi­cult if Re­pub­lic­ans turn their budget in­to a mes­saging vehicle.

Some Re­pub­lic­ans say an “as­pir­a­tion­al” budget filled with con­ser­vat­ive policy could draw more sup­port from the con­fer­ence and help in the elec­tion. “I think what he’s put­ting on the floor would be more an ideal” budget, said Rep. John Flem­ing, a Louisi­ana Re­pub­lic­an.

But oth­ers say it could be a li­ab­il­ity with thorny de­tails that de­tract from broad­er, more con­cep­tu­al and suc­cess­ful Re­pub­lic­an at­tacks over the eco­nomy and Obama­care. Moreover, Re­pub­lic­ans don’t ne­ces­sar­ily have to touch the budget is­sue, be­cause the budget agree­ment set top-line num­bers for 2015.

For his part, Ry­an was non­com­mit­tal when asked Wed­nes­day — be­fore Boehner’s state­ment — wheth­er his com­mit­tee would pass a budget this year. “We’re just be­gin­ning the budget sea­son,” Ry­an said. “But we’re go­ing to be work­ing on it. We haven’t got­ten our num­bers to­geth­er yet.”

Ry­an didn’t sound con­cerned about GOP law­makers tak­ing risks in an elec­tion year. Rather, the reas­on some Re­pub­lic­ans fa­vor skip­ping the budget pro­cess this year, Ry­an said, is “be­cause we have a budget in place” due to the budget deal.

But House Budget Com­mit­tee Vice Chair­man Tom Price said, “A budget is a whole lot more than just the top-line num­ber. Fun­da­ment­al re­forms that get this eco­nomy rolling again, solve the chal­lenges of Medi­care and Medi­caid, that put us on a ap­pro­pri­ate plan for en­ergy in­de­pend­ence — those are the kinds of things that our budget ad­dresses and those are the kinds of things I think that hope­fully the con­fer­ence will em­brace.”

The con­gres­sion­al timetable sets April 15 as the dead­line for com­plet­ing ac­tion on the an­nu­al budget res­ol­u­tion for the new fisc­al year that starts Oct. 1.

For their part, Demo­crats who con­trol the Sen­ate aren’t likely to pass a budget of their own this spring, though Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair Patty Mur­ray, who craf­ted the budget deal along­side Ry­an, hasn’t yet an­nounced that.

“Chair­man Mur­ray is cur­rently talk­ing to her col­leagues on and off the Budget Com­mit­tee to de­term­ine the most pro­duct­ive way to build on the two-year budget deal and con­tin­ue work­ing to boost the eco­nomy, cre­ate jobs, and tackle our long-term de­fi­cit chal­lenges fairly and re­spons­ibly,” said spokes­man Eli Zupnick.

House Budget Com­mit­tee top Demo­crat Chris Van Hol­len said Ry­an could have trouble get­ting his budget passed un­less he turns his back on the spend­ing levels he agreed to as part of the bi­par­tis­an budget deal in Decem­ber. He based this on the 62 fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans who voted against that meas­ure.

“If Chair­man Ry­an and House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship want to pass their budget, they have a lot of work ahead of them. I think they’ll have to use their full per­suas­ive powers to get al­most 50 Re­pub­lic­ans who op­posed the bi­par­tis­an deal in Decem­ber to switch their po­s­i­tion. Those mem­bers are not go­ing to want to flip-flop on this is­sue,” said Van Hol­len.

But Rep. Mark San­ford, R-S.C., who was among the Re­pub­lic­ans who voted against the agree­ment (and also voted against the om­ni­bus spend­ing bill passed in Janu­ary) said he would not be wor­ried about any such por­tray­als.

Rather, San­ford said his dif­fi­culties with the deal in Decem­ber stemmed from the no­tion of “pay­ing for things ten years out, and I had a prob­lem with that.” San­ford said he would not rule out vot­ing for a new Ry­an budget at those same spend­ing levels, but “I’d want to see how it’s put to­geth­er, and how the pay-fors come.”

Neither San­ford nor Rep. Trey Gowdy, an­oth­er South Car­o­lina Re­pub­lic­an who un­like San­ford did vote for the deal in Decem­ber, said they had any prob­lem with House lead­ers pro­ceed­ing with a budget in up­com­ing weeks. “I’d vote for just about any­thing with Ry­an’s name on it,” Gowdy said.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×