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.
But he said that number would decimate nondefense discretionary expenditures, such as the transportation spending he helps control from an Appropriations subcommittee on which he sits.
“The compromise is about $950 billion. That’s about $100 billion less” than the BCA number, LaTourette said. “All the rhetoric is, ‘We’ve got to get it out of the mandatory side,’ but all of the money is coming out of the discretionary side. It won’t survive.”
Mulvaney, though, said he expects some of the sequestration cuts to be rolled back, and he said there is discussion of replacing those mandated cuts with cuts to mandatory spending such as entitlements.
He said the group could consider accepting a compromise that balances the budget more quickly than the current budget in exchange for a higher cap.
What is clear is that leadership must give these Members a reason to vote for the budget.
“It doesn’t get passed if there’s absolutely no concessions to conservatives,” said an aide to a RSC member. “There will be at least some deal to get it out of committee ... [and] save them the embarrassment of Paul Ryan being defeated in committee.”
A number too low, however, could leave appropriators with an embarrassment of their own: not being able to pass their bills.
Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a Republican member of both the Budget and Appropriations committees, was in Tuesday’s meeting and said he is trying to convince Members that they have to help pass spending bills if they set a low budget threshold.
“If you’re going to vote for a budget with a particular figure in it, then you’ve got to vote and help us on the appropriations bills,” Cole said.
Rep. Tom Price, a Budget Committee member and a former chairman of the RSC, said “there’s been a maturation process” among Members of the conservative group.
“There’s a recognition that you can’t vote for one number and then not support the appropriations bills that we’ve charged the appropriators to make happen,” said the Georgia lawmaker, who is chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, however, maintained that he will likely need Democratic support to pass his bills, which means setting the budget at a “reasonable” level.
“I want to go to work,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I just want a number, I want a number that’s reasonable and a number that I can practically pass these bills, which more than likely will take some level of bipartisanship.”