House GOP be­hind on bud­get bill

Tricky to bal­ance cuts, de­fense funds

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

House Repub­li­cans say they’re al­ready be­hind on this year’s bud­get and spend­ing bills, rais­ing the chances of a ma­jor year-end crush and the kind of mas­sive om­nibus bill that’s left the GOP steam­ing in re­cent con­gresses.

Bud­get-writ­ers in the House did say Wed­nes­day there’s a ten­ta­tive frame­work to start putting to­gether a for­mal 2018 bud­get blue­print — two months be­hind sched­ule. But they are strug­gling to find enough cuts to sat­isfy the party’s deficit hawks, and enough of a boost in mil­i­tary fund­ing to ac­com­mo­date its de­fense hawks.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said there’s al­ways a bud­get crunch in a new pres­i­dent’s first year and that Repub­li­cans are still work­ing through the process.

“We haven’t de­cided ex­actly how we’re go­ing to go about our ap­pro­pri­a­tions process in this first year, but … we’re go­ing to move to­gether on con­sen­sus,” Mr. Ryan told re­porters Wed­nes­day.

A bud­get is sup­posed to be adopted by April 15, and the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tees are then sup­posed to be­gin writ­ing the dozen an­nual spend­ing bills that keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning. Those bills are sup­posed to be in place by Sept. 30.

Repub­li­cans reg­u­larly crit­i­cized Democrats for miss­ing the dead­lines — but the GOP-led Congress hasn’t done any bet­ter.

Law­mak­ers on the Bud­get Com­mit­tee said they’re craft­ing a 2018 bud­get with ten­ta­tive plans to set dis­cre­tionary do­mes­tic spend­ing at $511 bil­lion and mil­i­tary spend­ing at $621 bil­lion.

Pres­i­dent Trump had pro­posed $603 bil­lion for de­fense and $462 bil­lion for dis­cre­tionary do­mes­tic pur­poses.

White House bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney said Wed­nes­day the ad­min­is­tra­tion got to the $603 bil­lion fig­ure be­cause that’s where spend­ing would be ab­sent manda­tory cuts, known as se­questers, that Congress passed sev­eral years ago.

“We think it’s suf­fi­cient,” Mr. Mul­vaney told mem­bers of the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee. “But if this body sees fit to do more than that, cer­tainly you’ll get no ob­jec­tions from this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Rep. Mac Thorn­berry, chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, and Sen. John McCain, chair­man of the Se­nate com­mit­tee, have floated a $640 bil­lion fig­ure.

The House Bud­get Com­mit­tee also had planned to di­rect law­mak­ers to find $150 bil­lion in cuts over 10 years to manda­tory spend­ing in pro­grams like food stamps.

“We want to get about this process,” said Rep. Tom Cole, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can. “We’re the ones that ought to kick it off.”

Still, Mr. Cole said Repub­li­cans face two likely op­tions for the spend­ing bills: Ei­ther a year­long “con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion” that main­tains 2017-level fund­ing through 2018, or else a mas­sive om­nibus bill de­liv­ered at the end of the year that would prob­a­bly re­quire Demo­cratic votes to pass, giv­ing the mi­nor­ity party far more lever­age in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Con­ser­va­tives who want deeper do­mes­tic spend­ing cuts are un­likely to fa­vor ei­ther op­tion.

The Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee, a con­ser­va­tive cau­cus in the House, has called for lead­ers to write a sin­gle mas­sive bill but have it ready be­fore Au­gust, giv­ing law­mak­ers a chance to have a full de­bate be­fore the Sept. 30 dead­line.

“The game of fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal brinks­man­ship has yielded few, if any, vic­to­ries for con­ser­va­tives,” RSC Chair­man Mark Walker, North Carolina Repub­li­can, said ear­lier this month. “We can­not keep punt­ing this prob­lem and should be proac­tive rather than re­ac­tive.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.