Chairman: GOP budget 'absolutely' will pass

Chairman: GOP budget 'absolutely' will pass
© Greg Nash

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Tuesday expressed confidence that his budget plan will pass the House.

“I think so. Sure. Absolutely,” Price said while his vice chairman, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), stood by nodding his head.

Price on Tuesday unveiled a 146-page resolution that would balance the federal books in nine years by cutting $5.5 trillion.

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It had been an open question whether fiscal conservatives would endorse the plan, but positive signs began to emerge on Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters he would likely vote for the budget and believes many of his conservative colleagues would, too. He predicted the blueprint’s emphasis on the use of the reconciliation procedure to repeal ObamaCare would win many people over.

“I think reconciliation language will be a motivating reason for I think many of us to lean toward supporting the budget,” Jordan said during a “Conversations with Conservatives” lunch.

Last year, Jordan voted the final budget prepared by then-Budget Committee Chairmen Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE (R-Wis.), which was narrowly approved in a 219-205 vote. Twelve Republicans voted against it.

Jordan’s endorsement could be key in pushing Price’s budget over the edge.

Price’s approach to defense spending could be a major sticking point because his blueprint sticks to budget ceilings that were established by a 2011 law. The Pentagon, for example, would be limited to $523 billion starting in October if Congress doesn’t change the law.

To appease lawmakers concerned about the Pentagon’s sequester level, the budget would significantly raise the war funding account, known as the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund, to $90 billion next year.

Price didn’t say whether all military hawks back his budget proposal, but suggested spending a total of $613 billion on defense should be something they can support.

“What has to happen is that a change in law has to occur for us to change the cap,” Price told reporters.

Beyond the OCO hike, the resolution also includes a deficit-neutral reserve fund that would allow Price flexibility later this year to approve additional defense spending. A GOP aide, however, suggested Price would not agree to offsetting those increases with higher taxes.

Those provisions are largely ways for Republicans to ensure that enough members of their conference vote for the GOP plan and prevent costly defections.

On Monday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) appeared to endorse using the war fund to finance military activities normally paid for under the base budget. His Senate counterpart, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Anti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid McCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death MORE (R-Ariz.), on Tuesday changed his tune on the OCO proposal and suggested he’s open to it. A day earlier, he described it as merely a gimmick.

The Senate’s budget comes out Wednesday ahead of committee markups in each chamber. Republicans are aiming to hold floor votes on them by the end of next week.