Conservatives offer votes in return for stricter spending rules

House conservatives drew lines in the sand Thursday on the fiscal 2007 budget resolution, demanding tougher rules on emergency spending, earmarks and a "date certain" for debate on budget process legislation in exchange for their votes.

The budget plan spends too much money for conservatives, while making little effort to curb entitlement programs. Moderates argue spending levels in the budget are insufficient for education, health care and other domestic programs.

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged that the leaders' work was cut out for them, but expressed no hesitation about putting the budget on the floor.

"We have members that want to spend more. We have members who want to spend less," Boehner said. "Our job over the next week is to find common ground on what the level of spending will be, put it on the floor and pass it."

Even if conservatives' demands are heeded, there is no guarantee GOP leaders can keep enough moderates on board to pass the budget. Boehner said negotiations with moderates were ongoing, but that "I believe we'll be at the president's number" of $873 billion in discretionary spending.

There is talk that even if House leaders can somehow scrape together enough votes, the budget resolution could easily fall apart in conference with the Senate, already on record as supporting far more spending. But Republicans this week were privately expressing doubts the measure will even get to conference.

There are 231 House Republicans; assuming all Democrats are present and vote "no," GOP leaders would need 218 Republican votes. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said Thursday he estimates at least seven moderates are solid "no" votes. That means Republican leaders have little margin of error with conservatives.

But a meeting Thursday between conservatives and party leaders yielded no agreement.

Talks are ongoing, said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, and the outcome could prove pivotal.

"What I've conveyed to leadership is I think that budget hawks ... see a historic opportunity to change the way we spend the people's money," he said. "The majority will pay a price in the November elections" unless Republicans further restrain spending, calling $873 billion a "ceiling."

Pence and his allies see $6.8 billion in mandatory spending cut instructions -- compared with $10 trillion in entitlement spending over the next five years -- as a lost opportunity.

Instead, they are seeking greater authority to control the spending process itself. Pence outlined four areas where they are demanding concessions from leadership, beginning with caps on "emergency" spending outside the budget process.

The budget resolution would cap emergency funds unrelated to the war at $4.3 billion; anything above that would be subject to Budget Committee review.

The RSC would go further and institute an up-or-down vote on increasing emergency spending above a set limit.

Second, they want a bigger crackdown on earmarks in pending lobbying overhaul legislation, and are demanding to see a "template" for new earmark rules next week before the budget vote.

"We want to strengthen the ability of members of Congress to challenge earmarks, to be notified of earmarks, to identify earmarks, and to do that both at the report language phase and at the conference report phase," Pence said.

Next, the RSC wants leadership to schedule floor consideration of a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would grant the president "line-item veto" and enhanced rescission authority. "Mr. Ryan's bill has broad support among Republican Study Committee members and they're anxious that it should be scheduled for floor consideration before we're asked to vote on the budget resolution," Pence said.

Finally, conservatives want a "date certain" for debate on legislation to create a "sunset commission -- with teeth" to evaluate federal programs and eliminate "outdated" ones if possible.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.