Dem spending proposal faces uncertain vote

House Democrats may not have the votes to pass their proposal to raise discretionary spending by $51 billion in 2020, as progressives balk at increased defense spending.
 
House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDivided Dems look to regroup On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill Left-center divide forces Dems to scrap budget vote MORE (D-Ky.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would increase the non-defense cap to $631 billion in 2020, a $34 billion increase, and the non-defense cap to $664 billion, a $17 billion increase. In 2020, the caps would rise to $646 for non-defense and $680 for defense.
 
Yarmuth released the legislation, which is set for a Wednesday committee markup, despite concerns from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).
 
Democrats, who have 22 seats on the committee, can lose up to three votes and still pass the resolution, but 15 of their members -- including Yarmuth -- are also members of the CPC.
 
“We’ve been trying to thread a needle here,” Yarmuth said Tuesday, before expressing confidence that the resolution will pass.
 
But several committee members have already indicated their opposition to the bill.
 
 
Jayapal said that she would be open to supporting a resolution if non-defense spending, which covers federal spending categories such as health, education, transportation, and foreign operations, was increased to defense levels. She was still considering whether to offer an amendment at the markup, seek to extract promises from Democratic leadership on their negotiating position with Republicans before voting yes, or simply vote against the bill.
 
 
“You can’t criticize endless wars and then fund a military budget that’s exactly what the Pentagon wants,” he said.
 
 
“I always like to see the defense side go down, and I’m not for OCO. I think we should just get rid of it,” she said, referring to Overseas Contingency Operations fund that does not count toward the budget caps and is frequently used to boost defense spending.
 
The caps legislation follows weeks of intense infighting among the Democratic caucus, which scuttled plans to introduce a full budget resolution that would have also had to deal with controversial tax issues.
 
Just an hour before Yarmuth introduced the legislation, at the CPC’s weekly meeting, member were expressing frustration with the deal on offer.
 
“It continues to frustrate me. I mean I’ve heard John Yarmuth say that this is the best deal we could get, but it’s a $33 billion gap,” said Rep. Judy ChuJudy May ChuTrump lawyer disputes Dem rationale for requesting tax returns Dogfighting victims need the HEART Act to find their way home Dems introduce bill to repeal Trump 'Muslim ban' MORE (D-Calif.), referring to the difference between defense and non-defense caps. “I’d like to see it evened out more.”
 
But moderate Democrats, such as members of the Blue Dog Coalition and New Democrats, are more concerned about fiscal restraint and defense spending, and don’t want to see the defense number reduced.
 
Budget watchdogs slammed the plan for further adding to the deficit, which has only increased under Trump’s watch and is expected to surpass $1 trillion as soon as next year.
 
“It is unacceptable that the House Budget Committee is refusing to consider a budget and inexcusable that they are instead pursuing massive spending hikes,” said, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan group that advocates for lowering deficits.
 
House Republicans were quick to point out the fissures in the Democratic caucus.
 
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackLeft-center divide forces Dems to scrap budget vote House panel votes to boost spending by 3B over two years Dem spending proposal faces uncertain vote MORE (R-Ark.) said the plan lacked bipartisan support, but quickly added: “For that matter, it’s not clear there is even partisan support for this bill.”
 
Even if the plan is approved in committee, it will face additional hurdles from when it is brought to the House floor next week. 
 
Asked if the plan could pass the House, Yarmuth responded, “I don’t know about that, we haven’t got a whip count yet.”
 
 
Trump proposed a plan to cut $125 billion from current cap levels and sneak $96 billion into defense through OCO.
 
If left in place, the 2020 caps of $543 billion for non-defense and $576 billion for defense, would mark a 10 percent cut from current spending levels.
 
Senate Republicans, who passed their own budget resolution last week, stuck with those levels, but excluded Trump’s proposed $96 billion increase in off-budget defense spending.
 
In their proposal, Democrats would keep Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) at current levels of $69 billion for defense, and set the allowance for non-defense to $8 billion, down from $12 billion.