Conservative lawmakers decry GOP rules with 'Washington-style gimmicks'

Several conservative House Republican lawmakers are blasting a provision in the House rules package that they say is a Washington-style gimmick.

The four Republicans, who include Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, want the new House rules package amended before lawmakers vote on it Wednesday. The complaints set up a battle with GOP leaders ahead of a final vote. 

Jordan, joined by GOP Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Tom Graves (Ga.) and Scott Garrett (N.J.), said the new rules package contained “Washington-style gimmicks” that appropriators could use to recoup funds they’d cut elsewhere.

The rules as currently proposed call for spending cuts to be placed into a separate account that wouldn’t be available for spending. The rule would allow the sponsor of the cut to reallocate the money for other purposes but doesn’t let another member increase spending with any savings that are set aside. 

Jordan’s proposal would essentially ban lawmakers from touching any of the money put into the spending reduction accounts. 

“Our amendment would prevent any reductions approved by the House from being used to increase spending in another bill,” Jordan said. 

Jordan said the current proposal is “unclear” on whether there is authority to spend from the savings accounts. He said the proposed change would ensure that the money isn’t spent, regardless of who proposed the cuts, unless the full House votes for it. 

“House Republicans, in particular members of the newly elected freshman class, need Americans to know that when we vote to cut spending, spending really will be cut with no Washington-style gimmicks,” Jordan said. “I urge House Republicans in the strongest terms to adopt this amendment to make the new Spending Reduction Accounts more bulletproof.”

Jordan’s proposal shifts authority over the savings accounts from the Appropriations Committee to the full House. 

It also sets up a potential battle on the first day of the new Congress between some of the old-guard appropriators in the House GOP and the new, Tea Party-backed freshmen who are eager to slash spending.

If the House votes to adopt an amendment to reduce spending, then the overall total budget allocation for the Appropriations Committee would be automatically reduced. 

The full House also could vote to provide more funding and reduce the amount of the savings socked away in the spending cuts accounts, thus increasing the allocation.  

The proposal also extends the spending cuts beyond the Appropriations panel’s 12 bills to supplementals and continuing resolutions. 

Under the proposed rules, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is given control to set the spending limits for the budget on his own. 

He has said that the failure of the Democratic-led House has made it necessary to provide a way to set the federal government’s spending amounts. 

Democrats contend that it’s an overreach of power. 

This story was originally published at 3:48 p.m. and updated at 7:47 p.m.

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