GOP unveils budget deal that seeks repeal of ObamaCare

Greg Nash

House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a budget deal that aims to torpedo ObamaCare while balancing the federal books within 10 years.

The deal would approve more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade, and seeks to use the budget procedure known as reconciliation to send a repeal of the healthcare law to President Obama’s desk.

The budget also sticks to the $1.017 trillion sequestration budget ceiling for 2016, and boosts military spending through an infusion of cash to the war fund.

{mosads}Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had delayed the release of the deal since Monday because of provisions he described as “gimmicks” that deal with changes in mandatory programs. He relented on Wednesday and signed the agreement.

The deal reconciles the rival budget blueprints passed by the House and Senate, and will not require a signature from President Obama. If adopted, it will be the first Republican budget agreement in a decade.

The House is expected to vote Friday on the deal, a leadership aide said.

Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees, hailed the agreement as a step toward curbing the government’s “out of control spending.”

“Congress is poised to approve a 10-year balanced budget for the first time since 2001, which represents an important step in confronting the nation’s chronic overspending. This will help change the way we do business here in Washington to make the government live within its means — just like hardworking families,” Enzi said in a statement.

While the earlier blueprints passed by the House and Senate were similar, several differences had to be bridged by GOP negotiators, most notably on Medicare.

The deal does not include a proposal from the House budget that would have called for giving seniors the option under Medicare of enrolling in private insurance. The idea has been championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Senate Republicans balked at including that plan, fearing it could become a political liability in a difficult election cycle where they are defending 24 seats.

Democrats assailed the GOP plan as a “bad deal” for the country. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the plan would “ransack America’s future.”

“With this ‘Work Harder for Less’ budget, Republicans seek to slash key investments benefiting hardworking American families, including K-12 education, college affordability, infrastructure and innovation, while at the same time paving the way for massive tax cuts to millionaires and empowering the special interests,” she said.

Republicans have remained united behind the push to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation, something that conservatives began to demand after the GOP won control of Congress last year.

While the reconciliation process is difficult, legislation produced under the process cannot be filibustered in the Senate, effectively removing the power of Democrats to block it.

The reconciliation language in the budget gives deficit-cutting instructions to the congressional panels with jurisdiction over the healthcare law. They are the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

The budget tasks the authorizing committees with producing bills that slash the deficit by billions of dollars no later than July 24. After that, Republicans would have to conference the bills from the two chambers.

It also imposes a point-of-order against a reconciliation bill or resolution that would raise the debt limit over the next decade. That provision can only be waived if two-thirds of the Senate approves it.

Congress will likely have to raise the debt ceiling this fall to prevent a federal default.

For fiscal 2016, which will start on Oct. 1, Republicans propose sticking to the $1.017 trillion discretionary budget cap set by a 2011 law. The sequestration ceiling limits the Pentagon to $523 billion in spending next year, while capping non-defense domestic programs at $493 billion.

To circumvent the Pentagon’s cap, Republicans included a provision that hikes a war fund to about $96 billion.

Defense hawks in the House won the additional Pentagon funding last month, beating back objections from fiscal hawks who complained it would increase the deficit by roughly $20 billion.

The deal would limit appropriators to using $19 billion for changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPs) for fiscal 2016 and 2017, which is the same level in the original resolution. Those levels would decrease after that, in an effort to phase them out.

Corker has wanted to completely phase out CHIMPs, which appropriators rely on to offset non-defense discretionary spending increases while remaining under the budget cap.

“By working together we have provided a vision for how we can advance solutions to create more opportunity for Americans and a healthier economy, more accountability in Washington and a stronger, safer and more secure nation,” Price said.

— This story was last updated at 4 p.m.

Tags Bob Corker Mike Enzi Paul Ryan
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