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 Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayNo. 3 Senate Democrat says Biden should tap Black woman for Supreme Court Biden's pledge to appoint Black woman back in spotlight amid Breyer retirement Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul 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.