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GOP infighting stalls budget plan

28 June 2017

The House Budget Committee canceled plans to send a budget resolution for fiscal 2018 to the floor this week, lawmakers said on Tuesday, as conservative Republicans pushed to add hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to the spending blueprint that would take effect October 1.

Some Republicans are beginning to question whether the conference can overcome its differences and pass a budget, something they fell short of previous year.

Some House Budget Committee members had hoped to see a markup on June 29. "I'm going to continue to push [until] we get it out of our committee", Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican and chairwoman of the Budget Committee, told reporters. "Going to a new budget reconciliation without understanding in principle where we are going on a border adjustment tax would be very hard to do", he said.

Some members appeared generally comfortable with the working topline numbers of about $621 billion for defense spending and $511 billion for non-defense, though others are calling for more money for the military or deeper cuts to domestic programs. "I do see a viable path".

Dent said he believes the pursuit of mandatory savings cuts may be endangering the GOP's plan to overhaul the tax code, since both are being discussed in the context of the budget reconciliation process. Black and House GOP leadership have offered the group of conservative and libertarian House GOP members $200 billion over 10 years in deficit reduction through the reconciliation process.

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Others, such as Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the conservative chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, are eager to cut.

"Fifty billion dollars is a lot of money", said Rep. Mike Conaway, agriculture committee chairman.

The North Carolina Republican said there's still "some back and forth" regarding the reconciliation target and how much each committee is willing to contribute toward the cuts.

"To appropriate to these numbers without an agreement in the Senate is just an exercise which will not provide great fruit", Meadows said.

"It's just commitments of chairmen to find that much", Mr. Brat said.

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Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a moderate, said $150 billion is an "aggressive number to begin with".

He argued it would be better to do the tax reform piece this year and focus on the significant changes to mandatory spending programs in next year's budget.

Republicans want to use next year's budget blueprint as a vehicle for a procedural tool known as reconciliation, which they plan to use to pass an overhaul of the tax code.

Asked if there's a path to 218 votes - a majority in the House - on a budget resolution, Mr. Dent said: "It's a hard one".

"Before we move forward on a budget, we need to know the answers to some pretty important questions, like is the border adjustment tax really dead and are we going to have real savings over time to offset big increases in discretionary spending?" said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus.

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GOP infighting stalls budget plan