As was expected after the Paul Ryan/Patty Murray budget agreement was passed through Congress and signed into law by President Obama, a new spending bill is emerging in the House of Representatives. It is being written in a secretive process on the sub-committee level, for the time being. As outlined in the Ryan-Murray budget agreement, it is based on a $1.012 trillion spending cap.
As also should be expected, it is opposed by many of the same Republicans who opposed the Ryan-Murray agreement because it raises the spending cap above the levels set by the sequestration legislation. There are more than a few of those Republicans who want to be able to offer floor amendments to the spending bill that is being written. Some of those Republicans have said they could support the spending bill, were it to contain certain policy riders. It remains to be seen if that will happen.
The Hill - Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.), one of the no votes, told The Hill this week that he could be open to voting for the omnibus if some key policy provisions are included, such as limits on ObamaCare’s implementation.
But he acknowledged that his impression from appropriators is they will not risk a new showdown over ObamaCare, which triggered a 16-day government shutdown in October.
To get his vote, Scalise argued that at the very least, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) must score wins on energy, defense and homeland security spending provisions.
The House approved Energy and Water, Defense and Homeland Security appropriations bills this summer with numerous amendments, while the full Senate did not vote on companion bills.
“We passed a few appropriations bills and we put some policy riders that reflect conservative principles,” Scalise said.
He said a final bill at a minimum should reflect GOP policy riders that scale back funding for wasteful green energy programs favored by the Obama administration. Examples of floor amendments include ending funding for green energy advertising and limiting federal agency procurement of alternative fuels.
Energy riders could have a good shot given Rogers’ keen interest in helping the coal industry.
Scalise said conservatives will push leaders to allow floor amendments on the omnibus, something that could make completing the bill in just over a week problematic.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who has made fiscal matters his signature issue, said he expected conservatives to offer an amendment to bring the top-line number down to $967 billion.
Another amendment, he said, would trim spending by 1 percent across the board. He said he would push for a House rule that would cover votes on those issues.
Mulvaney was less optimistic about getting policy riders on the omnibus.
He said GOP leaders appear ready to rely on Democrats to pass the omnibus, and as a result won’t feel the need to push policy riders.
“We were told in no uncertain terms that they would not be coming to us for votes,” he said. “Part of the deal with Democrats also included their support on appropriations.”
He said that “personally it would be difficult to support” any omnibus at a spending level higher than $967 billion, regardless of policy riders.
Pay close attention to the portion I have emphasized. If that statement is true, and I have no reason to believe it is not, conservatives have every reason to be concerned about the leadership of the Republican Party in Congress. Speaker John Boehner seems to have little care for the concerns voiced by the conservative members of his caucus. He and his leadership team were determined to force the Ryan-Murray agreement down our throats and they are proceeding with full steam towards implementing as much of the government spending as they possibly can.
If this proceeds as I think it will, the spending bill will be rammed through both houses of Congress and under the President’s pen in post haste fashion. Conservatives will then know for sure (if they don’t already) where they stand with the leadership of their party.