Is that … good? Paul Ryan thinks so, and he tells Hugh Hewitt that he anticipates no problem passing the budget deal that the Senate will hand off to them today. All he needs is enough Democrats to overcome the opposition of the House Freedom Caucus, which opposes the massive spending increases in the bill. Ryan feels confident that, contra Nancy Pelosi’s inexplicable filibuster yesterday, he’ll have more than enough crossover for a significant bipartisan majority later today:
HH: Do you have the votes in the House of Representatives to pass what looks like a done deal in the Senate?
PR: I think we will. I feel good. It’s, part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support. We are going to deliver our share of support. I feel very good about Republicans.
Ryan makes a point of underscoring the concessions that he and Mitch McConnell got out of the Democrats in the deal in exchange for the increased spending:
We also got a bunch of our other priorities. We got rid of the IPAB, which his this independent payment advisory board from Obamacare. The domestic spending funds the things that we all agree on like infrastructure and opioids and cancer research. And it also has the emergency supplemental. So it’s a big bill, and much of this domestic spending is the one-time stuff like this disaster relief for the hurricanes and the fires. And so people from those states, obviously, are very concerned about getting that aid to, you know, to Houston and to Louisiana and to Florida and to California. …
Our chairman, Mac Thornberry, and he worked the bill to these numbers, build this budget, scrub procurement, get the audit going so that we can get our military rebuilt. And that is, in my opinion, the biggest achievement here. And we also broke parity from the Obama days where Obama insisted if you’re ever going to put a dime in the military, you’ve got to put the same amount of money into domestic spending, no matter the need. Well, that’s not what we’re doing now. We’re putting more support for the military than for domestic, breaking that sort of old Obama rule and prioritizing the military. And I think that’s where our priorities ought to belong.
These are not inconsequential, but it’s worth asking just how much value each of these has against the avalanche of spending in the agreement. In the 2013 budget agreement, the only other time the caps got raised, spending increased $63 billion over two years under the parity rule, but the bill also cut spending further down the road to pay for it. Supposedly, we had an agreement that would actually trim spending by $25 billion over ten years, a drop in the bucket but at least a small step in the right direction.
The scope of that increase was one-fifth of the new budget deal, and that was when Republicans controlled only the House and Democrats controlled the Senate and White House. Now, with Republicans in charge of all three, the best they can do on a deal is to spend five times as much?
Needless to say, GOP conservatives won’t back the bill, but they don’t have the numbers to stop it — unless Pelosi torpedoes it:
“This budget deal is a betrayal of everything limited government conservatism stands for and I will be voting no,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
A slew of House conservatives stood up in a closed-door Republican Conference meeting Wednesday to chide Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his team on the package, which would increase spending on defense and domestic programs. One of those was House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a longtime Ryan ally, who argued that the plan would balloon the nation’s more than $20 trillion debt.
Hensarling was far from alone. As Republicans exited the meeting, many decried the proposal as a betrayal of the party’s commitment to fiscal responsibility. House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat (R-Va.) called it “a Christmas tree on steroids.” And group leader Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) called the agreement a “monstrosity.”
“I just never thought that Speaker Ryan — with his history and his background in budget issues, and his concern with the debt and deficit issue — I just never thought that this would be something that the Congress would put forward,” Jordan said.
One has to wonder how Ryan still feels “very good about Republicans” after this. In truth, though, most of Ryan’s caucus aren’t hardline budget and deficit hawks, and even some who are have, er, grown since their election. Mick Mulvaney took a job in the White House and abandoned his previous concerns over deficit spending, but that’s also true of more Republicans that stayed put.
In other words, expect this to pass rather easily. If the bill doesn’t get 300 House votes and a majority of the Republican caucus, I’d be stunned. Fiscal responsibility isn’t cool any longer, it seems, and apparently it never was in Washington at all despite all protestations to the contrary from elected officials on both sides of the aisle. I’ll leave readers with my conclusion at The Week:
So much for Republican spending discipline, eh? And for that matter, so much for the feigned concern over deficits in the Democrats’ opposition to the tax reform bill, too. When the chips are down, both parties gobble them up enthusiastically and then borrow more money for the dip. Despite having the budget caps in place for more than six years, Congress has not reconsidered the scope of America’s military mission and its expense, nor the limits of federal beneficence and the emergency mindset of domestic programs long after the end of the Great Recession. And those budget issues pale in comparison to the irresponsibility of borrowing 40 percent of the money spent in the overall budget and the massive fiscal cliffs ahead in entitlement programs as the population ages.
If the Senate rolls the budget compromise into the continuing resolution passed by the House on Tuesday and forces the House to pass it, Congress can at least stop kicking the 2018 budget can down the road, but that’s only a small relief. Time’s running out for the other cans, whether Congress stops kicking or not.
Update: Ryan will undoubtedly need Democrats to cross over. Will they? Sahil Kapur thinks so, in part because they’re furious at Pelosi for trying to relink DACA to the spending bill (via the Washington Post):
A message from a House Democratic lawmaker who is … less than thrilled with Pelosi’s marathon speech on Dreamers today. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/OoOudvgHJA
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 8, 2018
Apparently, the discontent over Pelosi’s stunt is even broader than first thought.