Congressional Republicans will huddle later this week to open consideration of next year’s federal budget, upping the pressure on Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price to find increasingly narrow consensus between the Republican conference’s warring fiscal and deficit hawks.
Rep. Price, a Marietta Republican, has sketched out a spending blueprint in line with discretionary spending levels agreed to last year in concert with President Barack Obama, but would include several deficit reduction mechanisms the broader conference and Congress could adopt, a committee aide told reporters Monday.
Fiscal year 2016’s budget touched off a heated debate among Republicans: some wanted dramatic, immediate cuts to spending across the board while defense hawks insisted that expanded resources must be directed to the Pentagon.
Freshman Republican Sen. David Perdue was tapped Thursday to sit on a special House-Senate panel to reconcile the differences between the budget blueprints the two chambers passed last month.
The Georgian was one of twenty senators—11 Republicans, 9 Democrats—appointed. He joins Rep. Tom Price, who birthed the House budget, on the joint conference committee, which is slated to hold its first public meeting on Monday.
Both budgets would zero out the federal deficit over the next decade and gut the Affordable Care Act, but conferees must hash out lingering disagreements over an increase for the Pentagon’s war fund.
Senate Republicans may employ a budgetary procedural tool known as reconciliation that would require the support of only a simple majority instead of the standard 60-vote threshold only if the conferees can come to an agreement. Of course, the measure will almost certainly be vetoed by the president.
Rob Woodall was among 17 House Republican defectors who voted down Wednesday a leadership-backed budget resolution authored by fellow Georgian Tom Price.
To settle a dispute between fiscal and defense hawks over military funding, House GOP leadership brought a half-dozen competing budgets, including a pair by House GOP budget chief Price that varied only in the extent to which the Pentagon’s war fund was expanded, to the floor for votes last night.
Price’s amended blueprint, which would goose the war fund by $96 million instead of the $94 million with $20 million in offsets he originally proposed, came out on top with 228-109 vote split.
Woodall voted down that plan and instead backed the more austere blueprint drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee, of which the Lawrenceville GOPer was most recently chair.
But the Woodall-backed conservative alternative, which zeroed out the deficit four years faster than Price’s spending model, failed with nearly as many Republicans voting against it (112) as for it (132).
A Woodall spokesman did not immediately respond Thursday when asked why the congressman did not vote for both the RSC and Price blueprints.
The other noes, which represent a mix of centrists and hardliners, after the jump:
Republican Rob Woodall was positively giddy Tuesday as the U.S. House moved forward with an unusual maneuver that would allow for a series of competing floor votes on alternate budgets.
The move stems from an argument between fiscal and defense hawks over how much to boost the Pentagon’s war defense fund.
In the first spending proposal offered by Georgia Tom Price, the chair of the House Budget Committee, the fund would see an increase of $94 billion next year while requiring $20 billion in offsets. Price later introduced a mirrored budget, dubbed Price 2, that would goose the war fund by $96 billion with zero offsets. Instead of the relevant committees anointing one bill over the other, both will move to the floor for a vote.
“I was looking around to see if folks were getting goose bumps as the reading clerk was reading the rule,” Woodall told The Hill. “I was, and I think if folks were honest with themselves, they’d be getting goose bumps too.”
Price’s bills are just two of the six that lawmakers will consider Wednesday. The other blueprints include those drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee, House Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The measure with the most affirmative votes will be adopted as the final plan.
Woodall said he was unclear on which proposal would ultimately come out on top, but praised the strategy as inclusive of “every voice.”
“I don’t know where the votes are going to shake out, and I’m excited to find out,” the Lawrenceville GOPer said. “I don’t know which budget’s going to pass at the end of the day. But I know this: I know America will be the better for us having a process that includes absolutely every voice in this chamber.”
Woodall’s crystal ball may be cloudy, but House leadership is confident Price 2—in which the war fund will see a rise of $96 billion with no offsets—will adequately bridge the gap between the conference’s fiscal and defense hawks and earn the most affirmative votes.