By Patrick OConnor - 03/16/05 12:00 AM EST
|Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) yesterday rejected leadership’s compromise on the budget as Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) vowed to pass a bill soon, creating the potential for a showdown on the House floor.|
Pence, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), on Tuesday afternoon left a meeting with Blunt, Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) without accepting any of leadership’s three compromise measures on the budget.
|A leadership aide says that Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) “appears to be no longer focused on [the RSC].”|
Pence’s rejection of the measures could imperil a House budget resolution, as Blunt and his whip organization work to secure the votes necessary to pass one by the end of this week.
After the meeting, Blunt remained committed to passing a resolution this year, an aide said, which could mean keeping members in Washington during the recess or forcing the House to revisit the bill when members return from Easter break.
In addition, whip aides disputed the notion that this is a widespread conservative revolt against the budget and said Pence was largely speaking for himself on the issue. The question remains, though, if leadership has the votes to pass a resolution.
The latest whip notice says the House will possibly vote on the budget later this week.
The aide to an RSC member who is close to the talks said Pence had the votes to defeat the budget measure and would remain committed to defeating any bill that does not include his point-of-order provision allowing any member to force a vote on spending bills that run counter to the budget outlines.
“What chairman Pence and the RSC are seeking to do is enforce the budget,” the aide said. “What we’re asking for is one small step on the way to fiscal discipline.”
The aide said Pence would consider any compromise that is a “meaningful reform to enforce the budget.”
The meeting Tuesday marks a particularly contentious turn in leadership’s negotiations with Pence. The standoff could ultimately be decided during a floor vote, with all eyes on Kirk, who has stood with Pence but has not been as vocal in his opposition to the bill. Kirk would not tell reporters before yesterday’s meeting how he would vote on the bill.
Among the compromises offered by leadership was the creation of a new rule forcing the Rules Committee to explain the cost of pending legislation that would bust the budget.
“Congressman Pence appears to no longer be focused on [the RSC],” a House GOP leadership aide said. “This is now isolated to Pence and a handful of members.”
The Hill reported yesterday that, at an RSC meeting last week, 18 members indicated they were willing to defy House leaders by voting against the budget. Some claim that the total number of House Republicans who object to the budget is in the mid-20s.
Few if any Democrats are expected to support the GOP plan. The budget bill is unlikely to hit the floor unless the number of defectors is below 20.