With revolt brewing, House GOP backs off budget deal

House Republican leaders are back where they started in negotiations over funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. Concerned about a revolt by the conservative, tea-party wing of the party, GOP leaders have pulled back from a tentative deal to cut roughly $30 billion in cuts from current spending levels. The influence that tea-party conservative now exercise over the process put the chances of a compromise seriously in doubt.

The deja vu nature of the negotiations raises the distinct possibility that the government could shut down after the April 8 expiration of the current stopgap spending measure. Congress could also pass a seventh temporary extension since the end of the fiscal year on September 30, but lawmakers' appetites for them appear to have run out.

A congressional aide briefed on negotiations said Monday that Republicans had -- at one point -- agreed to work on a deal with the White House that would cap discretionary spending for fiscal 2011 at $1.055 trillion, which is $35 billion less than the fiscal 2010 level and $74 billion less than what was requested by President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget.

But the aide said the GOP pulled back from that agreement last week after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., warned House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that the deal would trigger a revolt from tea party conservatives.

That agreement had come after Republicans rejected a Democratic offer with $11 billion in total cuts. Republicans had been pushing for $61 billion in cuts over seven months, which amounts to $100 billion in cuts compared to Obama's fiscal 2011 budget. The House passed the GOP proposal in February.

Negotiators included staff from the offices of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

But, "They pulled the rug out," the congressional aide said of that agreement last week. "They brought the negotiations back to square one, after the speaker indicated he could agree to a figure that was about half-way between," the aide said.

An additional conflict came over including some cuts to mandatory spending, which Democrats said Republicans have resisted. Aides in both parties said talks between Reid's and Boehner's staffs continue, but that no conversations involving the White House are currently set.

The scenario is similar to one that played out in early February, when House Republican leaders were forced to add more cuts to a continuing resolution written by the House Appropriations Committee and set by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would have also capped discretionary spending at $1.055 trillion.

House GOP aides disputed that characterization of the talks. "Not true," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, when he was pressed for a response on Monday. Steel added that the talks are continuing, and that, "No agreement will be made or announced until all of the outstanding issues -- including funding limitations -- are settled."

"At this point, the House has done its work by passing a bill, and the Democrats who run Washington have not," said Steel. "No spin can change that fact."

Another Republican congressional aide said that "candid conversations" among the GOP leaders about strategy are ongoing, amid the continued talks with Democrats. But the aide said those GOP conversations should not be portrayed or misconstrued as signs of internal division, but rather "honest and open conversations about how we can best proceed."

Against this backdrop Monday, one of the nation's largest tea party groups -- the Tea Party Patriots -- announced details of their planned "Continuing Revolution" rally near the Capitol this Thursday.

The event is being described as an effort to underscore the growing impatience with Republicans, in particular, for not taking a tougher stand on the Washington spending standoff.

In a sign of what Boehner is facing, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Steve King, R-Iowa, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Tom Graves, R-Ga., are to be among the speakers at the rally, held at the Robert A. Taft Memorial, west of the upper Senate Park.

Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty; Colin Hanna, founder of Let Freedom Ring; and Dick Morris are also listed as speakers.

"Our country is in critical financial despair, our economy is stuck in recession, and all Americans are feeling the effects. Meanwhile, it's business as usual in Washington. They are continuing their resolutions, which don't seem to be resolving much of anything," an alert for the rally states.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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