This contribution is part of our weekly This Week In Washington series
Once again, both chambers of Congress will simultaneously deal with the CR to close out this year’s budget process and the new budgets for FY 2014. In the process, Republicans will once again vote to fund Obamacare after inveighing against it for a week.
FY 2013 CR – The Senate worked all last week on amendments to the House CR (HR 933), which passed that body earlier this month. The most important vote was the Cruz amendment, which would have defunded Obamacare in the budget bill. Every Republican voted for the amendment, while every Democrat (except for Joe Manchin, who was conveniently absent) voted against it. It is nice to see all Republicans vote the right way when they knew it wouldn’t pass. Now it’s time for them to oppose the CR until funding for Obamacare is removed. Harry Reid will attempt to invoke cloture on the CR late Monday afternoon and finish dispensing the remaining amendments on Tuesday. Conservatives will be watching carefully to see who votes for the CR.
Aside for funding Obamacare, the Senate version of the CR has many different riders, including three full spending bills that are not in the House version. It has some extra perks. As such, upon passage in the Senate, the bill would have to come back to the House for final approval. Unfortunately, most conservatives have already shown they will support whatever the Senate sends them.
FY 2014 Budget Resolutions - Last week, both the House and Senate budget committees released their budget resolutions for fiscal year 2014. This week, those plans will move to the floors of their respective chambers. Paul Ryan introduced a budget that will balance in 10 years. It is almost identical to last year’s committee budget, except that it includes $3.3 trillion in new revenue – both from the Obama/McConnell tax increases and more optimistic revenue projections – in order to achieve balance. The budget passed out of committee on a party-line vote.
Beginning Tuesday, the House will consider the Ryan budget plan, H.Con.Res. 25, under a modified open rule, allowing for a few amendments. Democrats will be able to offer an alternative budget proposal lead by Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The Congressional Black Caucus will also offer an even more radical budget. Both will be defeated.
On the other side of the aisle, the conservative Republican Study Committee will offer their annual budget as an amendment. The budget would balance in just 4 years and trim spending to 18.5% of GDP. It would cut discretionary spending below FY 2008 levels, gradually raise the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security, and phase-in Medicare premium support more quickly than the Ryan budget. Moreover, it would not rely on the Obamacare and fiscal cliff tax hikes in order to achieve balance. Overall, it is a great budget. It usually garners between 50-60% of the Republican vote, but will come up well short of a majority.
It’s important to remember that none of this will have the force of law, as each chamber will reject the budget proposal of the other. Ultimately, leaders in both parties will wind up funding government for the next fiscal year (beginning October 1) with a CR or an omnibus bill that looks nothing like the Ryan budget. So while many Republicans will act like heroes voting for the Ryan budget, and possibly even the RSC budget, very few of them will commit to voting against the final CR or omnibus late this summer. That final budget bill will ultimately fund Obamacare and eschew every major reform set forth in the Ryan budget resolution. It’s ironic to see Republicans speak so passionately about this year’s Ryan budget, even as they simultaneously vote to vitiate last year’s Ryan budget with the CR.
Meanwhile, assuming the Senate finishes work on the FY 2013 CR early in the week, they will take up the Senate Budget Committee’s resolution for FY 2014 on Wednesday or Thursday. This budget, authored by Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), will never balance –ever. It raises an additional trillion in new taxes and offers phony baseline spending cuts, much of which are from accounts that would have never been spent (war spending and extra disaster relief). Additionally, the budget resolution calls for $100 billion in new stimulus spending. It also cancels the entire $1 trillion sequester. To that end, the budget actually would result in more spending. Not surprisingly, it passed out of committee along party lines.
This budget will actually be brought to the floor under regular order, setting up the likelihood of a “votarama,” a series of dozens of votes on all sorts of amendments related to every expenditure in the federal budget. This is an excellent time for Republicans to offer amendments that will embarrass the numerous red state Democrats who will face tough reelection challenges next year.
[Every week, we will try to spotlight some positive legislation that is worthy of conservative support.]
- Suspend Aid to Egypt, (H.R. 276) – Taxpayers have sent $60 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt since 1979. Yes, that’s billion with a B. Any rationale to continue this egregious transfer of wealth became obsolete with the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the country. Yet, Obama wants to increase their aid, forgive outstanding debts, and provide their military with F-16s and Abrams tanks. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has introduced H.R. 276, which would freeze all aid to Egypt. The bill currently has 19 co-sponsors. Call your members of Congress and tell them to stop the madness.
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