Will House Republicans join Senate Democrats in the no-budget club?
For the last year or two, Republicans have been angrily attacking Senate Democrats for skipping the annual budget process. Democrats retort that releasing a budget into divided government is a waste of time, and that it makes more sense for the two parties to get together and figure out something that can actually pass.
Both sides have a point. Republicans are right that Senate Democrats are ducking tough questions. Budgets force you to identify trade-offs and make hard decisions, and one reason Senate Democrats don’t want to produce a budget is that they see no reason to make those trade-offs and decisions public if they have no chance of passing. Senate Democrats are right that the budget Republicans want them to produce has no chance of passing, and the only reason Republicans want them to put a budget forward is they expect it will include juicy targets to attack. Brian Beutler has more on the back-and-forth here.
But this year, the joke might be on Republicans. The Budget Control Act that ended the debt-ceiling standoff is, in effect, a 10-year budget. But a lot of Republicans don’t like it. They say it spends too much, and it would be hypocritical to endorse it. And so, as Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser reports, Republicans may end up joining Democrats in the no-budget club:
The problem is that Republicans may have neither enough votes in the committee to pass a budget in line with the Budget Control Act nor one that shrinks spending below it.
Nine GOP members of the Budget Committee voted against the final version of the Budget Control Act. One of them, Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.), said it would be “tough” to pass a budget in the committee that conforms to those levels.
“We effectively could be said to be to the left, then, of the administration on spending levels,” Garrett said. “You want to live by what you voted on, which was the Ryan budget.”
With the conservative Heritage Action for America vowing to oppose any budget that pegs the numbers to Budget Control Act levels, GOP leaders likely would not be able to pass a budget in the committee or on the House floor without Democratic support.
And, for obvious reasons, it will be hard for House Republicans to field a budget that their Democratic colleagues can support. So the end result might be that neither House Republicans nor Senate Democrats pass a budget in 2012. This would have precisely no practical implications for funding the government, but it would deprive Republicans of a potent talking point.