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Frustrated by an increasingly hostile intraparty fight over the budget, GOP leaders are fielding a compromise spending level to placate conservatives and appropriators alike in the hopes of nipping the civil war in the bud.
The discussions have centered on a plan that would mirror House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's topline figure from last year's budget, $1.028 trillion, and spurn the $1.047 trillion figure that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated with Senate Democrats in July's Budget Control Act.
Ryan's office did not return requests for comment on the ongoing negotiations. But Members and aides confirmed that the Wisconsin Republican, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Republican Budget Committee members will hold a substantive meeting today to iron out the details before they recess for a weeklong break Friday.
But the compromise is still in peril, as it might not be enough to placate appropriators or hard-line conservatives alike, who have warred about how much money to spend next year.
"I don't think people want to sink the bill. I think it's really important that we pass a bill, so hopefully we'll find common ground, find a compromise," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who sits on both the Appropriations and Budget committees and has favored sticking with the BCA number.
The $1.028 trillion mark would create a rocky road for the budget in committee and on the House floor. If, as expected, no Democrats vote for the plan, just three Republicans voting "no" could sink the deal in committee, and there's more than enough angst on the GOP side to make that happen.
In one corner are the appropriators, who believe lowering the spending cap below the BCA levels jeopardizes their chances of passing their bills this year and who have three seats on the Budget Committee.
"It doesn't have to be our way or the highway," Cole said. "At the end of the day, appropriators are almost always team players, and a lot of the people that are insisting on some of these things aren't."
In the other corner sits the Republican Study Committee, which has pushed against leadership and the BCA number in favor of a budget of $931 billion and is well-represented on the committee.
"We will pass a budget," said Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), a member of the RSC and the Budget Committee who has pushed for a lower spending level. "The fact that the Senate hasn't passed a budget and has failed in its responsibility is no excuse for the House to fail in its responsibility."