Speaker John Boehner (center) is under pressure to come up with a budget level that satisfies the conservative element of his party and the appropriators who will likely need bipartisan support to pass their bills this year.
Under increasing pressure from conservatives, House GOP leaders are poised to lower budget levels below what appropriators have said they need to pass spending bills this year.
At the same time, some of the conservatives demanding deeper spending cuts said they can come around to voting on spending bills if the budget resolution comes out to their liking and the bills conform to their number.
How low conservatives can set the bar remains to be seen, but in closed-door meetings this week, Republican leaders and GOP members of the Budget Committee are working to hash it out.
“We’re continuing to work with our Members on the budget,” Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand from our Members to show the American people a way forward to fiscal sanity ... and we’re going to do that.”
Republican Members on both sides of the spending battle said not passing a budget is not an option.
What does seem assured is that leaders are backing away from a budget of $1.047 trillion, the number they negotiated in July’s Budget Control Act and which members of the Republican Study Committee deemed unacceptable.
When asked where the spending cap will fall, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
It is unlikely the number will go quite as low as some in the RSC are demanding in their call for a $931 billion budget. But Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a member of the RSC and the Budget Committee, said he wants to go as low as possible.
“You get a number low enough, and you’ll get conservatives voting on it,” the South Carolinian said. “You’ve got groups in the party that want to spend at [$931 billion] and you’ve got groups that want to spend at a higher number. So that’s the art of what we’re trying to do here, is get a number that we can all agree on.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (Va.) office confirmed that he and other leaders are meeting with members of the committee.
Rep. Steven LaTourette (Ohio) said Tuesday that the compromise could be $950 billion, a number derived by subtracting from the BCA baseline the $97 billion in cuts to nondefense discretionary spending mandated by the sequestration process created in the establishment of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.