House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan defended his spending blueprint Tuesday and said he is confident the House will pass it, despite GOP opposition to the underpinning bipartisan budget agreement last year.
The Wisconsin Republican, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said the resolution will likely draw enough votes to pass, despite 62 Republican defections to a deal he struck in December with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. That deal set spending levels for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, to which Ryan's budget conforms.
“Members who may not have supported the Ryan-Murray deal see that this is an entirely different deal and a different perspective in the context of actually balancing the budget and paying off our debt,” Ryan said. “Our colleagues who we have visited with frequently are pleased to support this budget because of its overall goals. The good clearly outweighs any other concerns that they had.” Some Republicans are sure to vote against Ryan’s budget, as they do every year. Last year, 10 Republicans voted “No,” some because they did not consider the budget conservative enough, and others because Ryan included changes to Medicare.
Republicans have been critical of Democrats for spending cuts to Medicare, which help pay for the Affordable Care Act. Those same cuts appeared in Ryan's blueprint. But Ryan said that does not negate the GOP's past criticism, because his plan sets up a reserve fund whereby money can be funneled back into Medicare, rather than paying for the Affordable Care Act. The budget would strip funding from the health care law.
"We want to make sure that all the savings that come from Medicare go back to Medicare to shore up its program, and if we have problems with Medicare … we have created a system to address that as those problems arise," he said.
Overall, he said, he believes it is important to put forth the budget to differentiate Republicans from President Barack Obama and Democrats. In particular, he said increasing defense spending shows a clear contrast with the administration.
The House Budget Committee is scheduled to mark up the proposal on Wednesday.