Top House chairman: GOP ‘cannot surrender’ by skipping budget

Top House chairman: GOP ‘cannot surrender’ by skipping budget
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the House Budget Committee is making the case for its controversial spending plan by citing the party's constitutional duty to offer an alternative to plans proposed by President Obama.

“Congress must not cede even more power to the executive branch by forgoing our responsibility to budget,” House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said in his opening remarks of a markup that typically lasts past midnight.

“We also cannot surrender to the status quo and fail to act boldly when the times demand it and the American people demand it,” Price said.

Price’s remarks are a message to the fiscal conservatives within his committee who are fiercely opposed to his trillion-dollar budget blueprint. The budget sticks by the spending levels set by last fall’s deal with the White House, which adds $30 billion in defense and non-defense spending and ends years of cuts from sequestration.

That opposition from conservatives, led by the House Freedom Caucus, has put the 2017 budget blueprint in peril within its own committee and beyond.

In the first few hours of the markup, however, none of the committee members who belong to the Freedom Caucus spoke out against the resolution. The only member to publicly oppose the blueprint was Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), a former member of the caucus, who called for deeper cuts.

Minutes later, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) called for a separate bill to reform the budget process, though a spokeswoman said he is hopeful to supporting a budget blueprint

Still, the budget chairman and his staff have been firm in their stance that the committee will have enough votes to pass its resolution and send it to the floor.

The budget bill’s fate on the floor is even less certain.

Opposition from the 40-member House Freedom Caucus makes it nearly impossible for the House GOP leadership to muster the 218 votes needed to pass a bill along party lines. The House has 247 Republicans.

Price has already weathered tough budget markup as chairman: Last year’s budget resolution was fraught with concerns from defense required arm-twisting from then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) before it ultimately passed.

- This post was updated at 12:48 p.m.