After the Senate on Thursday approved the GOP budget plan 51-49, House Republicans are considering whether to pass the Senate version as-is to accelerate their tax reform agenda. "There's a very clear possibility that the House clears this next week," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said of the Senate legislation Friday.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Friday agreed to back the Senate bill if House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will first pledge to schedule a floor vote on taxes by the second week in November. Ryan has said he intends to complete tax reform by "early November," but many on the Hill consider that schedule deeply unrealistic.
President Trump addressed the situation on Twitter Friday and Saturday, decrying Democratic opposition, complaining of inadequate media coverage, and promising historic tax cuts soon. "Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history," he wrote Saturday morning. "MSM barely covered!" Bonnie Kristian
On Thursday, President Trump sent his first budget plan to Congress, and it was not warmly received. Democrats criticized its sharp cuts to the EPA and programs for the vulnerable, and Republicans signaled that Congress would write its own budget. Republican defense hawks said Trump's increase in military spending was not big enough, while many GOP lawmakers criticized the proposed 28 percent cut to the State Department, slashing of the National Institutes of Health budget, and steep reduction in funds for programs and services in poor and rural areas. If the House voted on Trump's budget as is, one top House Republican told Politico, "I don't think we'd get 50 votes for it."
"I think the president's proposal is not our starting point," said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president's skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a member and former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "We will certainly review this budget proposal, but Congress ultimately has the power of the purse." The cuts to foreign aid "will not stand," he added. "This too shall pass." Peter Weber
With House Republicans still divided on how to move forward with plans to pass the budget, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reminded lawmakers Friday that there's always the option to just skip the budget altogether. "It would be a shame, but the sky won't fall if we don't do a budget," Ryan said to members at a closed-door meeting. Because of a two-year deal struck last fall between then-Speaker John Boehner and the Obama administration, Ryan contends Congress is not "staring down a cliff" that would force them to make a final call.
However, Ryan warned members, this choice would not come without repercussions. If House Republicans decided against doing a budget, Ryan said the Republican Party would essentially be missing out on a chance to "do big things" in 2017. The GOP would not be able to present their fiscal solutions to the public ahead of the presidential election, nor would they be able to pass all 12 appropriations bills, essentially forcing Congress back into its "crisis-driven cycle of passing spending bills" that Ryan has been trying to avoid, The Hill reports.
Republicans are at an impasse over the prospect of passing a budget that sticks to the previously agreed upon $1.07 trillion spending level. Others are pushing for increased military spending, which Ryan pointed out could only increase by $40 million within current spending levels. "Are House Republicans willing to give up appropriations bills, a balanced budget, entitlement reform, and reconciliation for $40 million?" Ryan asked Friday.
House Republicans have until the beginning of March to reach a decision on how to proceed with the budget plan. Becca Stanek
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Wednesday morning that he will support the tentative budget deal reached by Congressional leaders and the White House to raise the debt limit. While Ryan, who is the Republican Party's top candidate to succeed John Boehner as House speaker, initially slammed the process of making the deal, he said he ultimately supports its contents.
"What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that's why I intend to support it," Ryan said in a statement. "It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people."
Ryan did, however, vow to replace the current process, which he says "stinks," with a process "that builds trust" if he becomes the next speaker of the House. "There is no doubt that a better process would have produced a better result," Ryan said. "If I'm elected speaker, we will begin a conversation about how to approach these big issues — as a team — long before we reach these kinds of deadlines. We simply can't keep doing business this way."
The $80 billion, two-year budget deal reached Monday night would raise the debt ceiling to avert the government defaulting on its debts and would roll back some 2011 spending cuts, moderately increasing defense and domestic spending. A vote on the deal could come as soon as Wednesday. Becca Stanek