House Republicans continue to debate how to approach this year’s budget work, with a large faction — the Republican Study Committee (RSC) — joining in the opposition to additional spending that was part of a bipartisan budget agreement last fall.
Disagreement over this issue has delayed work on the Fiscal 2017 budget resolution, and raised the troubling possibility that Congress might not pass one at all. This would frustrate the hopes of top GOP congressional leaders — notably House Speaker Paul Ryan — for a more orderly budget process.
The fall agreement eased caps on discretionary (annually appropriated) domestic and defense spending that many lawmakers in both parties had criticized. RSC Chairman Rep. Bill Flores said last week, however, that the deal would add to the debt and should be offset with either reductions in non-defense discretionary spending or in mandatory programs, which do not require annual approval.
Democrats scoff, noting that Republicans approved a large package of tax breaks in December that — without offsets — are projected to raise federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars in the next decade.
Abandoning the fall agreement would virtually ensure intense Democratic opposition to appropriations bills this year, derailing Republican-approved measures in the Senate or the White House.
The situation is another reminder that bipartisan cooperation and compromise are essential on the federal budget.
House RSC Website With Flores’ Statement
Feb. 23 Statement by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer
House Republicans Struggle to End Budget Standoff (Washington Post)
Press Release on CBO’s January Projections (Concord)