No. 1 priority if GOP wins Senate? Priebus says a budget deal

If Republicans win control of the Senate, their first priority in the next Congress will be passing a budget, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday.

On MSNBC, Priebus was asked what the GOP could accomplish if his party wins the majority in the Senate.

"We will pass a budget in both chambers, No. 1, and we will pass the Keystone pipeline, No. 2. And I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because I think the pressure — he's going to be boxed in on that, and I think it's gonna happen."

The budget agreement reached in December 2013, between Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Policymaking commission offers a glimmer of hope in hyper-partisan Washington Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Wash.) reset budget caps for fiscal 2014 and 2015 and relieved sequestration during that period.

A new budget would set spending levels for at least fiscal 2016, which begins in October. Lawmakers would likely try to relieve sequestration again to avert any potential cuts that could return if appropriators bust the budget caps that year. 

Ryan, who is expected to seek the House Ways and Means Committee gavel next year, said in an interview in September that, even if Republicans win the Senate by a slim majority, they could use the legislative tool of reconciliation to pass a budget resolution. Under that process, the reconciliation instructions must only be approved by a majority vote, not a supermajority normally required to break a filibuster. 

In a more recent interview, Ryan suggested Congress would work on a deal next year similar to the one he reached nearly a year ago. 

"Patty and I already got most of the low-hanging fruit that Senate Democrats are willing to give. So, we’re past low-hanging fruit and into actual entitlement reforms," he said. "But I think we’ll have to do another one, and we’ll try to make the president reach a little bit."

Appropriators, meanwhile, are hammering out the details of what is expected to be an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through September 2015.

Lawmakers will just have a short amount of time in the lame-duck session to pass the bill between returning to Washington next week and before the current stopgap spending bill expires Dec. 11.