By Erik Wasson
House Republican appropriators on Tuesday revealed that they have decided to ignore GOP budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the controversial issue of disaster relief, spending over the discretionary levels set in the 2013 budget.
Ryan’s Budget Committee, in nonbinding report language attached to the House-passed 2013 budget, called for all disaster relief to “be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution.”
To abide by the report, appropriators would have had to include disaster relief within the $39.1 billion allocation they have set aside for the Homeland Security bill.
Appropriators instead have decided that $5.481 billion in disaster money will be spent over and above the allocation for the Homeland Security bill.
In making this decision, appropriators are conforming with a provision in last August’s debt-ceiling deal, which allows disaster money to be spent above annual spending caps, to the tune of $11 billion in 2013.
The decision to abide by the August Budget Control Act instead of Ryan’s report language should help smooth enactment of the Homeland bill because it removes one small bone of contention with the Senate and White House, which sought $5.48 billion this year for disasters.
The decision could cause some Republicans loyal to the Ryan plan in all its facets to defect from the bill on the floor, however.
Last fall, House GOP leaders had difficulty passing a spending continuing resolution to keep the government open after House conservatives insisted that disaster relief be fully offset in the bill. The Obama administration at the last minute said it could stretch existing funds until fiscal 2012, diffusing the issue.
For 2012, House leaders said they would abide by the August debt deal’s extra disaster-funding provision.