GOP budget clears panel, but trouble awaits

Getty

The House budget panel easily cleared its 2017 spending blueprint on Wednesday evening, despite a conservative rebellion that still threatens the bill’s fate.

All but two Republicans on the House Budget Committee voted to send the bill to the floor, where it is likely doomed because of resistance from fiscal hawks in the House Freedom Caucus. The final vote was 20 to 16, with all Democrats opposed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Without support from the 40-member House Freedom Caucus, the trillion-dollar budget proposal will come up short on the House floor. The House GOP can only afford to lose 28 votes to ensure a bill’s passage without Democratic support.

Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), both members of the Freedom Caucus, were the only Republicans who opposed the budget blueprint. The other five Freedom Caucus members who sit on the budget committee voted to advance the bill, though they have said they will oppose the bill on the floor.

The nine-hour budget markup was far smoother than most had expected given the Republican resistance.

“I think we completed this in record time,” Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said while members applauded as they wrapped up just before 8 p.m.

Price had been confident going into the marathon markup that the committee's Republicans would help carry it to the floor, even if they opposed the overall bill.

Fiscal hawks have balked at the $1.07 trillion spending levels in the bill, which are $30 billion higher than last year. Those figures were cemented into law last fall as part of a deal between President Obama and former Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE.

About 90 House Republicans refused to vote for that deal then.

Most of the hearing was dominated by debate on nearly 30 Democratic amendments, ranging from Flint aid to community service compensation. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), one of the most vocal supporters of healthcare additions, lost her voice around dinnertime.

Each of the 29 Democratic amendments failed.