U.S. Rep. Tom Price rolled out an ambitious budget blueprint this morning that would balance the federal books within the next decade, repeal Obamacare and overhaul programs for the poor, but the road ahead for the Roswell Republican’s policy vision is choppy at best.
In fact, it is growing more difficult by the day for Price to shepherd the leadership-backed plan to passage.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have already rejected the blueprint, which focuses on the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
“At least 30 members of the roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus voted to formally oppose the budget. Those 30-some members are vital for the Republican budget. Without their support, the document would lack a majority of House votes, since the spending blueprint typically gets no Democratic backers.”
At the heart of their discontent is the fact that the measure adheres to the budget deal then-Speaker John Boehner forged with the White House and congressional leaders last fall. That accord allows for $30 billion in additional federal spending for the upcoming year, half of which would go to defense-related programs.
Republican leaders have been pushing for lawmakers to accept the higher spending level so that they can move forward on government spending bills later this spring. (The only way Democrats and Republican defense hawks will play ball is if the budget deal is honored.)
As an olive branch to fiscal conservatives, Price’s plan promises a vote later on separate legislation that would cut at least $30 billion from other entitlement programs. But the overture hasn’t impressed HFC members so far.
We previously wrote about the delicate political needle Price is trying to thread with his Republican colleagues. He will almost surely need to revise his plan if he wants to see it pass the House.
Otherwise, the resolution largely follows the contours of previous Republican budget plans. It shuns raising taxes, instead balancing the budget by chopping $6.5 trillion in expected spending within 10 years and adopting the assumption that economic growth will achieve another half-trillion in savings.
A big chunk of those expected savings come from repealing Obamacare. The measure would also turn Medicaid and food stamps into state block grants, introduce more screening and oversight to the government’s refugee program and dismantle the Department of Commerce.
It also seeks to unlock a special legislative tool the GOP Congress could later use to bypass a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Republicans used that procedure to target Obamacare and Planned Parenthood funding last year, but President Barack Obama vetoed that bill.
The House Budget Committee, which Price leads, will consider the resolution Wednesday. It won’t be a cakewalk. Last year’s measure nearly tanked as the panel marked it up, and similar fireworks could fly this time around.
The resolution will not have the force of law, even if it passes both chambers of Congress. It instead functions as the GOP’s policy blueprint for how it would run the government if it controlled everything.
“The Fiscal Year 2017 House Republican budget, A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America, provides a vision and specific solutions for how we can, as a nation, get our fiscal house in order, strengthen our national security, provide support for those who need assistance and empower our citizens and our communities,” Price said in a statement.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.