Bipartisanship or Bust
Congressional Republicans are considering foregoing a budget this year, in a tacit admission that big party-line legislation may be off the table before the 2018 elections, Politico reports. GOP leaders, including President Trump, discussed the possibility last weekend at Camp David, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly arguing that even if he could find the votes for a budget, he was unlikely to get 51 votes to pass legislation sought by House GOP leaders to cut welfare, Medicare, and other social programs to tackle the federal deficit. Without a budget, the Senate can't use the reconciliation tool to pass legislation with a simple majority.
Scrapping a budget for top-line spending limits "would be an embarrassment for Republicans, who for years railed against Democrats when they avoided one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress," Politico says, but the idea is also infuriating House GOP conservatives, already likely to be on the losing end of current spending negotiations. "It's legislative malpractice to throw reconciliation out the window," Dan Holler, vice president of Heritage Action, told Politico. Until the Senate scraps the filibuster, "the only way we're going to be able to accomplish anything is through reconciliation," said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.). "We have to use reconciliation."
The Senate is "the problem," said House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.). "They don't seem to have the same energy to get this financial situation under control, and that disturbs me, because you need both sides to do it." The House will probably pass an aggressive and partisan budget, which the Senate is very unlikely to adopt, Politico notes, but the efforts of GOP fiscal hawks to tame the deficit is already harder this year thanks to the massive tax bill that nonpartisan congressional scorekeepers say will add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.