By Erik Wasson - 12/10/13 12:07 PM EST
Tea Party groups line up against deal
Tea Party groups on Tuesday came out against a House-Senate budget deal before its contents were released.
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity both announced they would “key vote” the deal as described in the news media, meaning members would be penalized on annual ratings cards if they vote for it.
AFP said it opposes any deal that replaces the $91 billion sequester cuts that are hitting discretionary accounts in 2014. FreedomWorks similarly said it rejects any deal that increases discretionary spending above current levels.
The deal being worked out between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would replace some of the sequester cuts with long-term reductions to mandatory accounts like federal retirement benefits or payments to hospitals and possibly an increased user fee on air travel.
FreedomWorks called the potential agreement a "shakedown."
“It’s disingenuous for Republicans to surrender the only real spending reforms accomplished under the Obama Administration, and call that a deal,” President Matt Kibbe said. “Immediate spending and revenue hikes without long-term reforms to spending and entitlement programs isn’t a deal, it’s just another manufactured, govern-by-crisis shakedown.”
AFP President Tim Phillips said that “Republicans should once again stand firm in upholding the modest sequestration spending cuts that both parties agreed to for the current fiscal year.”
It remains to be seen how many votes the Tea Party stance costs congressional leaders if they move for a budget vote on Friday, as expected. Thirty-one congressmen led by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) signed a letter saying they prefer a sequester-level $967 billion stopgap bill to a bad deal, but Mulvaney said he is open to a trade-off that locks in bigger mandatory cuts.
Heritage Action, another influential conservative group, opposes any sequester replacement if the long-term savings are “inadequate.”
Americans for Tax Reform, led by Grover Norquist, is open to sequester replacement under the right conditions.
Norquist's group opposes the demands of Patty Murray that taxes be hiked $1.4 trillion over the decade and that the sequester spending limits be ended.
“ATR could support shifts of spending from one year to another as long as the overall sequester limits were met for the decade and any future cuts are in law — not just promised as happened in 1982 and 1990,” ATR spokesman John Kartch said in an email. “ATR opposes tax increases to replace spending restraint.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) also said he is willing to consider the deal.
“There’s a lot of groups that are concerned about what the deal might look like, but ultimately we should be more concerned about what the deal does look like,” he said. “The details haven’t been agreed to yet … I am confident in Paul’s work and that he is trying to address the spending problem that is holding our economy back.”