The Next Budget Crisis Is Only 90 Days Away

US Rep. Paul Ryan,R-WI, walks to a meeting at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 16, 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that a deal had been reached with Republican leaders to end a fiscal impasse that has threatened the United States with default. Reid, speaking from the Senate floor, said the agreement called for reopening the federal government with a temporary budget until January 15 and to extend US borrowing authority until February 7. 
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
Oct. 16, 2013, 7:55 p.m.

Be­fore the ink was even dry on the plan to end the gov­ern­ment shut­down and avoid bust­ing the na­tion’s debt lim­it, there were grow­ing doubts that Con­gress could avoid an­oth­er fisc­al show­down in only 90 days.

The pack­age to re­open the gov­ern­ment runs only through mid-Janu­ary, and law­makers have pinned hopes to avert a re­peat per­form­ance on a new bi­par­tis­an, bicam­er­al con­fer­ence com­mit­tee. The last sim­il­ar pan­el, the so-called su­per com­mit­tee of 2011, dead­locked and ad­journed in dis­agree­ment.

The new pan­el, to be led by House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., and Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray, D-Wash., will be­gin its talks amid a pois­on­ous and par­tis­an at­mo­sphere after the first gov­ern­ment shut­down in 17 years.

If the policy gulf between the two parties was not chal­len­ging enough, law­makers on both sides of the aisle are ques­tion­ing wheth­er any­one — even Ry­an, the most re­spec­ted voice on fisc­al mat­ters among House Re­pub­lic­ans — can truly rep­res­ent a frac­tious con­fer­ence that pushed a gov­ern­ment shut­down against its lead­er­ship’s wishes and then re­jec­ted its own speak­er’s pro­pos­al to re­open the gov­ern­ment.

“We’re un­gov­ern­able,” Rep. Charles Bous­tany, R-La., a seni­or mem­ber of the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, said Wed­nes­day. “There is no doubt in my mind that the last three weeks have made any­thing achiev­able in the House more dif­fi­cult.”

For the con­fer­ence com­mit­tee to suc­ceed, both parties must trust that the oth­er is ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith and can sell a com­prom­ise-laced pack­age to their re­spect­ive caucuses. It’s not clear any­one cur­rently has that abil­ity when it comes to the rest­ive House Re­pub­lic­ans.

“That’s a le­git­im­ate con­cern based upon re­cent his­tory,” said Sen. Robert Ca­sey, a mod­er­ate Pennsylvania Demo­crat. “Not much we can do about that oth­er than have them dis­prove it.”

Bous­tany agreed that the chal­lenge will be es­pe­cially acute for House GOP con­fer­ees. “Any time a con­fer­ence com­mit­tee con­venes to try to solve some of these prob­lems — wheth­er it’s a farm bill, or a de­fi­cit-re­duc­tion pack­age, or any­thing — if you can’t rely on the fact that the rank-and-file mem­bers have your back and will go along with it then that makes it im­possible to gov­ern,” he said. “And that’s largely where we are today, and it’s not a good place to be.”

In pub­lic on Wed­nes­day, top law­makers tried to sound a pos­it­ive note, even as lead­er­ship aides in both parties, and on both ends of the Cap­it­ol, were skep­tic­al.

“You have two very good ne­go­ti­at­ors who are far apart in their views, but both wish to de­fang the worst parts of se­quest­ra­tion,” Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., said. “Hope springs etern­al.”

Two main as­sump­tions un­der­pin those Demo­crat­ic hopes. The first is that Re­pub­lic­ans, wounded polit­ic­ally in the cur­rent shut­down bout, will not want to re­hash an­oth­er gov­ern­ment-shut­down battle in only 90 days. The second is that GOP hawks will come to the table to dis­cuss un­wind­ing the auto­mat­ic cuts in place due to se­quest­ra­tion be­cause the de­fense sec­tor will take a big­ger share of cut­backs in 2014 than it did in 2013.

Both as­sump­tions could prove false. Demo­crats have con­sist­ently over­es­tim­ated the cur­rent, tea-party-in­fused Re­pub­lic­an Party’s will­ing­ness to ne­go­ti­ate away se­quest­ra­tion be­cause of de­fense spend­ing. And plenty of House Re­pub­lic­ans, even amid plum­met­ing poll num­bers, did not sound ready to give up the fight.

“The battle is over,” Rep. Aus­tin Scott, a Geor­gia Re­pub­lic­an elec­ted in the 2010 wave, said on Wed­nes­day, “but the war has just be­gun.”

Law­makers are already busy de­fin­ing down suc­cess for the budget con­fer­ence com­mit­tee. Al­most no one is dis­cuss­ing the kind of “grand bar­gain” — a mix­ture of rev­en­ues sought by Demo­crats and en­ti­tle­ment cut­backs sought by Re­pub­lic­ans — that has proved elu­sive between Pres­id­ent Obama and con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans for al­most three years.

House Speak­er John Boehner said Wed­nes­day that “rais­ing taxes is not a vi­able op­tion,” while Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi ruled out any changes to Medi­care and So­cial Se­cur­ity without fresh rev­en­ues. “Why should granny pay the price when we won’t even touch one hair on the head of the wealthy in the coun­try?” she said on MSB­NC.

In­stead, dis­cus­sions for the con­fer­ence com­mit­tee are around simply keep­ing the gov­ern­ment open through Septem­ber 2014, the rest of the cur­rent fisc­al year. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., called that a “reas­on­able ex­pect­a­tion.”

“I would ac­know­ledge that the in­siders here prob­ably have low ex­pect­a­tions,” he said, “so let’s ex­ceed it.”

Ben Terris contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
13 hours ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
1 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login