Republicans' new budget strategy will hit a brick wall with Democrats if it strays from last year's deal between President Obama and former House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run MORE (R-Ohio), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned Tuesday.
GOP leaders are eyeing a plan to tie the Obama-BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run MORE funding levels to a series of separate votes to slash federal spending. The strategy is designed to appease conservative Republicans who voted en masse against the Obama-Boehner deal and are now threatening to oppose any budget that doesn't promote less spending.
But Hoyer, the Democratic whip, said cutting billions of dollars from the spending level agreed to by Obama and Boehner would be a deal-breaker with Democrats.
"That's not part of the deal; it's not part of the agreement; it's not part of the discussion," Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "And we're going to be ... very vigilant in trying to reach a final outcome which reflects the deal that was made."
The Democratic opposition would not alter the outcome of a House budget vote, with Democrats expected to vote unanimously against any resolution the Republicans put on the floor. But it sends a warning to GOP leaders that any appropriations bills set at levels below the Obama-Boehner agreement would likely be dead on arrival with both the White House and Senate Democrats, who have filibuster powers.
Last year's spending agreement set a spending cap of $1.07 trillion for fiscal 2017, roughly $30 billion above the level set by a 2011 budget deal that conservatives prefer.
Faced with a conservative revolt, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Monday unveiled a strategy that keeps the existing Obama-Boehner level intact while guaranteeing votes on separate measures to cut deficit spending. The votes will provide election-year ammunition to conservatives facing pressure to fight harder to reduce government spending.
GOP leaders are expected to float the plan to the full Republican conference on Wednesday morning.
Hoyer emphasized that he'd prefer an even higher spending cap but said Democrats are willing to accept the Obama-Boehner level in the name of bipartisan compromise.
"We'll have $15 billion on the defense side; $15 billion extra on the nondefense side, which we believe is not sufficient, but it is the deal. And we're prepared to pursue that," he said.
"You really can't operate if you make agreements and then two months later a group says, 'No, we made that agreement, but we don't want to follow it,' " he added. "It's just not the way that we can respect one another, trust one another and move forward effectively."