Leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee voted Thursday to oppose last year's spending bill, throwing the House GOP's budget plans into turmoil.
The RSC is the most powerful caucus of House Republicans and includes 170 of the House GOP's 246 members. Their decision to oppose the deal, as a result, is a major problem for Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Trump: House GOP's plan for border tax could create more jobs Conservatives to Congress: Get moving MORE (R-Wis.)
The RSC, led by Rep. Bill FloresBill FloresA guide to the committees: House GOP's ObamaCare talking points leave many questions unanswered Republicans impatient with anti-Trump civil servants MORE (R-Texas), is now pushing Ryan to cap spending at $1.04 trillion – a move that would break the terms of last fall’s accord set by then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE (R-Ohio).
Last year's agreement has remained unpopular among the party’s fiscal hawks even after a majority of House Republicans voted to confirm it last fall.
Some members of the RSC had already urged Ryan to break last fall’s unpopular accord.
The vote took place the same day that Flores met with Ryan, as well as the chairmen of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group, to discuss the budget.
One day earlier, the full House GOP caucus met to discuss the budget.
Flores told The Hill after that meeting that he had expected to hear a "comprehensive" budget proposal from House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) at that meeting, but did not receive one.
Flores has previously said he would seek a lower spending limit, and said as recently as Wednesday that he is keeping his options open.
Price earlier this week said that his budget proposal would stick by the spending caps, which amount to about $30 billion more spending than the previous year. He promised a vote on that proposal would be coupled with a vote on a bill to trim the deficit sometime this year.
Publicly, Ryan and other GOP leaders did not commit to that idea, and instead reiterated that the decision would be made by the full caucus. Ryan said as recently as Thursday that the party did not have to pass a budget.
This is the first time many House Republicans are drawing a line in the sand on this year’s budget process. Until now, most rank-and-file members have held their fire as Price and the Budget Committee have offered options on how to keep the spending levels in tact.
The opposition from the Republican Study Committee severely compromises the GOP’s efforts to pass a joint budget resolution, which would allow them to begin the appropriations process and achieve what Ryan calls “regular order.”
Both Ryan and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (R-Ky.), set out to pass a joint budget resolution in 2016.
Those prospects have shrank dramatically in the last several weeks, as the House Freedom Caucus began to dig in its heels against the Obama-BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE spending caps and the Senate has been confronted with a new battle over a Supreme Court nominee.