Finance

Budget process drags as GOP struggles for consensus

House Republicans have not reached a consensus on a strategy for advancing their budget resolution, making it increasingly unlikely that a resolution will be passed before the Fourth of July recess.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out how can we in this constrained budget process get our appropriations work done and have the House go forward,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said.

“We haven’t decided exactly how we’re going to go about our appropriations process in this first year, but we’re going to move together on consensus,” he added. 

{mosads}In the meeting with rank-and-file members, several options were presented as ways forward, including Rep. Tom Graves’s (R-Ga.) plan to pass an omnibus in the summer, as opposed to the normal process of passing 12 individual spending bills, another option on the table. Congress has in recent years been unable to pass all 12 bills, even when starting the process in the spring.

A third option was a “minibus,” in which several individual funding bills would continue forward, and the rest would be combined into one.  

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said there was talk of going directly to a bipartisan deal like the 2013 agreement between Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — an option that GOP moderates see as inevitable, but that conservatives oppose. 

With only seven full legislative days left before the Fourth of July recess, the lack of consensus on a strategy is pushing the timing of a possible resolution further behind.

“We’re a week behind because of what happened last week,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a reference to last week’s shooting that severely injured House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Many representatives on Wednesday were wearing stickers with the logos of the New Orleans Saints, Scalise’s hometown football team, in his honor.

“Today was more about the process of getting to a number,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Another meeting on the budget is scheduled for Friday of this week.

A source with knowledge of the process says the House Budget Committee has relative agreement on spending levels, and a markup of its resolution could still happen next week, but the spending number may still be at odds with what the wider Republican conference is willing to accept.

The panel is eying $621 billion for defense spending, $511 billion for non-defense spending and a cut of around $150 billion to mandatory spending, the source said.

The resolution is expected to contain higher spending levels on both defense and nondefense spending than President Trump’s budget request, but House Freedom Caucus members are pushing for deeper cuts to welfare programs to offset the higher spending. 

– This story was updated at 2:50 p.m.

Tags Louie Gohmert Patty Murray Paul Ryan Tom Graves

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