Dem warns GOP to adhere to budget deal

Dem warns GOP to adhere to budget deal
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The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee is warning Republicans not to ignore the budget accord struck last year as they plow through spending bills in the coming months.

In a Tuesday letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Cummings sends 51 letters to White House, others requesting compliance with document requests Interior chief Zinke to leave administration MORE (R-Ga.), Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback House passes disaster relief bill to fund government through Feb. 8 On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-N.Y.) said that Republicans shouldn’t bother with crafting a fiscal 2017 budget resolution since they already have spending levels in place from the two-year budget deal Congress approved last year.

“Beginning the budget and appropriations process by breaking the agreement reached in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 would start the process on an extremely sour note,” Lowey wrote.

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Despite already having a budget law in place, Republicans in both chambers are indicating that they’ll consider non-binding budget resolutions this year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed during last week’s GOP retreat to make a “major effort to pass a budget” in 2016 to contrast with Democrats who didn’t pass budget resolutions for years while they held the majority. 

House Republicans similarly considered a budget resolution in 2014 even though the deal struck by then-Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) already established spending levels for the year. 

Many conservatives opposed the bipartisan budget agreement struck by former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in his final days in office last year that raised the debt limit. Only 79 House Republicans voted for the measure, compared to 167 who voted against it. 

Lowey said that passing another, more conservative budget resolution this year would “send a clear and unmistakable signal that the Republican majority continues to support confrontation and brinkmanship, rather than regular order, in our budget and appropriations process.”

Consideration of appropriations bills could become complicated, Lowey warned, if they included funding provisions adhering to the budget deal but above the GOP's budget resolution.

Some Senate Republicans have expressed skepticism over spending time on a budget resolution this year instead of passing annual appropriations bills to avoid another catch-all spending package. Senate consideration of a budget involves numerous successive votes on amendments — a process known as a vote-a-rama — that typically goes late into the night.

Congress has not moved all 12 individual spending bills since the 1990s. Lawmakers have repeatedly turned to all-encompassing “omnibus” measures in recent years despite passing a handful of regular appropriations bills. 

The House passed six regular appropriations bills last year, but had to cut consideration of the seventh short due to controversy over amendments regarding the display of the Confederate flag. Senators only passed one appropriations measure to fund the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.