Budget resolution missing from House agenda

Budget resolution missing from House agenda
© Greg Nash

Republicans did not include a vote on their budget in the schedule they released Monday of activity this week — the last before the August recess.

The resolution, which the Budget Committee approved last week, has divided the GOP, with conservative Republicans demanding greater cuts to mandatory spending and centrists calling for a new, bipartisan approach to the blueprint.

The measure includes budget-reconciliation rules for tax reform that would create a fast-track process for a top priority of congressional Republicans and President Trump.

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House leadership and GOP leaders on the Budget Committee have expressed confidence that they can gather the necessary votes for the budget resolution, but its absence from the legislative agenda indicates that they still face holdouts. They could still add the resolution to the agenda if opposition within the party recedes.

The agenda did include the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, a “minibus” bill that combines four security-related appropriations bill for 2018. It was listed on the Wednesday through Friday portion of the schedule.

Republican leadership had hoped to pass the budget resolution before the August recess. When Congress returns in September, the House and Senate will only have a month to agree to a measure keeping the government funded — along with legislation to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

If the specifics of the budget make it too difficult to pass, Republicans have an alternative option for unlocking the fast-track for tax reform, called reconciliation. They could pass a simple, "shell" budget that only contains reconciliation instruction and strips away all the other spending and policy statements usually included in a budget resolution.

When Democrats and Republicans agreed to the 2017 spending package in May of this year, Republicans passed a similar shell budget to pave the way for repealing Obamacare through reconciliation.