Republicans pass budgets in both House and Senate, trim $5.1 trillion in spending

Remember when a disagreement between Republicans on the budget was “cataclysmic” for GOP claims to governance? Democrats last passed a normal budget resolution six years ago, but Republicans went all of seven days before both chambers finally passed budget resolutions. Our long national nightmare, at least as envisioned by Politico, is over:

The Senate passed a Republican-authored budget plan early on Friday that seeks $5.1 trillion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years while boosting military funding.

The 52-46 vote on the non-binding budget resolution put Congress on a path to complete its first full budget in six years. It came at the end of a marathon 18-hour session that saw approval of dozens of amendments ranging from Iran sanctions to carbon emissions and immigration policies.

The House passed its budget resolution on Wednesday after a similar process of debate and amendment. Some journalists might be unfamiliar with this process after six years of Democratic Party grandstanding under the cataclysmic leadership of Harry Reid, but this is called “regular order” budgeting. Reid’s decision to abandon that process was what led to several years of budgeting by brinksmanship, “fiscal cliffs,” debt-ceiling standoffs, and the like.

Oddly, Politico didn’t seem to recall those cataclysms at the beginning of a normal budget process. Hmmmm.

Of course, the two budget resolutions still have to be reconciled, which will take a conference committee to resolve the differences. That’s also a part of the normal budget process, rendered exceptional by Reid and his cohort in their attempts to aggrandize the executive branch by breaking the legislative. It’s also where Republicans plan to take a page out of Reid’s playbook to challenge Barack Obama:

In addition to aiming to eliminate deficits within 10 years, both documents seek to ease the path for a repeal or replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.

But differences between the two documents still need to be worked out and a combined budget passed next month by both chambers. Doing so would allow Republicans to invoke parliamentary rules to repeal “Obamacare” with a simple majority in the Senate rather than a tough-to-achieve 60 vote threshold.

Funny how that worked out, eh? What a coinky-dink. Looks like Republican leadership can actually, y’know, govern.

The budget resolutions themselves still have a lot of room for criticism, of course. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul both opposed the final budget resolution in the Senate because it did not cut enough spending over the next ten years, and conservatives had hoped to roll back more of the encroachment in federal governance that has grown over the last generation. The conference committee will not help in that regard, as it will operate on the two budget resolutions to close the gap for the final conference reports.

There’s not much that Barack Obama can do about it, either. Budget resolutions don’t become law; they just act as a framework for the appropriations bills that come later, and which Obama does have the ability to block. The real fights on the budget will come this summer, as those appropriations bills work their way through a similar process. Still, it’s the first time in six years that Congress has done its job at all, let alone on time. The return to regular order may end up being the best argument Republicans make for continued control of Congressional leadership for the 2016 election.