By Erik Wasson
Rep. Cole warns members will try to 'freelance' budget deal
Budget conference negotiator Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on Friday warned that unless the leaders of the panel start putting together proposals soon, members will start “freelancing” their own.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been having discussions, but many doubt that a deal is going to come together by the budget committee’s Dec. 13 deadline.
The core of the disagreement is new revenue, which Cole said he does not want to rule out in an effort to replace some of the $91 billion in sequester cuts, which are set to hit the Pentagon hardest.
“Maybe each side should present a proposal. If that doesn’t happen soon, you will see individual members doing that. There will be more of that, that’s part of the pressure,” Cole told The Hill.
“You are going to have groups start freelancing. I don’t know that that is the most orderly process, but sometimes that works,” Cole said.
He made clear that he is not himself threatening to drop a proposal, but said he wants a deal by Dec. 2 at the latest, so appropriators could start finalizing a giant spending bill in time to avoid a government shutdown by Jan. 15.
“I think the Appropriations committees feel frustration. I certainly do,” he said. “I would rather follow the lead than not, but sooner or later, somebody is going to start.”
At the Wednesday meeting of the budget panel, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine.) offered a compromise idea that would replace part of the sequester and lower the corporate tax rate by 2.5 percent. Because $250 billion in revenue would be used to increase spending, it was a tough sell for many Republicans.
Cole said Friday that both sides would have to give something to reach a deal.
“You can’t just give the other side a list of things you want and tell them to pick. That’s a pick your poison approach,” he said.
He said that both Republicans and Democrats have been wounded by the shutdown and ObamaCare rollout “fiasco,” so getting a deal could help both sides gain political capital.