Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks

Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks
© Greg Nash
House progressives are pushing for the Democratic budget resolution to freeze or even lower defense spending, a key sticking point that could prevent the resolution from moving forward.
 
“We don’t want to see an increase in defense spending and certainly not without some accountability and a stick,” said Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalActivist: Exclusion of domestic workers from federal labor laws 'a legacy of slavery' How Trump suddenly brought Democrats together on a resolution condemning him House votes against striking Pelosi remarks from record MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and a member of the House Budget Committee.
 
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Democrats are struggling to come to an agreement on a resolution that can garner enough votes within their party to pass in the House. Some moderates and deficit hawks are chafing at progressive demands that the resolution substantially increase spending, include elements of the Green New Deal or call for "Medicare for all."
 
 
The CPC called for a 1 percent decrease in defense spending in its own proposed budget last year.
 
“I don’t think there should be any increases, certainly no increases beyond where Obama was,” said Rep. Ro Khana (D-Calif.), a CPC member on the Budget Committee. “I don’t see how Democrats can be for that.”
 
 
Since budget resolutions do not carry force of law, and are seen as political priority documents, Jayapal said that a Democratic failure to reach an agreement and put a resolution to a vote would not be a major blow to the party.
 
“I think there’s some benefit to having a budget resolution if we can do it, but if we don’t get to it, I mean, I also think that’s feasible,” she said.
 
But Jayapal also signaled openness to accepting defense increases if they were paired with accountability mechanisms to keep spending in line. 
 
That approach would more closely adhere to the standard Democratic approach of accepting defense increases that are paired with matching increases in nondefense.
 
Regardless of the resolution, Democrats will have to negotiate a final deal on new spending caps with Republicans and the White House before spending legislation can move forward.
 
In the GOP-controlled Senate, meanwhile, Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLawmakers concede they might have to pass a dreaded 'CR' Bottom Line Former GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis files to run for Wyoming Senate seat MORE (R-Wyo.) said he intends to put forth a resolution in the coming weeks. 
 
That would mark a departure from last year, where the Senate Budget Committee never presented or marked up a budget.