House GOP apparently not so wild about more detailed budget votes

When Paul Ryan reluctantly agreed to be coaxed into taking the Speaker’s gavel, we knew things were going to change. There was going to be a move toward more transparency in how the House did business and everyone would have a voice. A new approach was needed in terms of taking care of the people’s business and a good place to start would be in the budget process. One great idea which had been floated was to move away from these giant, omnibus style spending bills and begin breaking various areas of the budget out for consideration as individual spending bills. That way everyone would have a chance to read them, comment, nix items which were bad investments and trim out some of the fat. Sounds good, right?

This week the new Speaker tried to begin that process by counting heads and seeing if anyone was up for tackling a financial services appropriations bill. The results were less than encouraging. (Politico)

Speaker Paul Ryan wanted to find out whether Republicans wanted to restart the appropriations process by passing individual spending bills.

The answer: a resounding no…

Scalise’s squad — at Ryan’s behest — asked lawmakers whether they would support bringing the financial services appropriations bill to the floor when the House returns Nov. 16. They found resistance from all corners of the party. Many lawmakers privately told POLITICO they would prefer to jump-start the process of writing a large-scale catchall funding bill called an omnibus. Funding runs out Dec. 11.

Well, I’m sure the members must have had a good reason not to want to do this, right?

But the angst about taking votes on items that will never become law is real — and could prove to be a recurring theme in a more freewheeling House. A handful of lawmakers also used a closed meeting Thursday to complain about difficult votes.

But Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said that’s a reasonable price to pay for empowering rank-and-file members.

“There are going to be tough votes for me, tough votes for them. I think that’s what the speaker said all along, you asked for an open process, and that’s what that entails,” Salmon said. “That means people are going to have to take tough votes.”

The Republicans are passing on this opportunity because they don’t want to take on tough votes? Then why did you run for office?

If Ryan had pulled this off right out of the gate I suspect that even some his most serious critics among the conservative base would have begun to take a second look at him. Personally, this is something I’ve been pushing for here for ages. The entire budget needs to be chopped up, possibly by department, with the rest spread out among smaller bills based on categories of spending. Keep them down to fifty pages or so and make everyone sit down in session and read out the line items. Then they can be free to start the haggling process over cuts and increases or removing spending items entirely. But at least the bills would be of a manageable size that everyone could be held accountable for all the tax money they were agreeing to spend.

But when Ryan offered them the chance to start down this very productive road, they pushed back and expressed a preference to jump-start the process of writing a large-scale catchall funding bill which is exactly how we got into this mess in the first place? If this wagon is going to go off the road, I don’t think it’s going to be dropped entirely in Ryan’s lap. This is a real solution being proposed which addresses one of the biggest complaints among fiscal conservatives. Matt Salmon is willing to take some tough votes and answer for them back home. What’s wrong with the rest of you?

This is just discouraging all the way around.