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GOP Works Toward Budget Deal

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Discussions have centered on a plan that would mirror House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (left) topline figure from last year's budget, $1.028 trillion, and spurn the $1.047 trillion figure that Speaker John Boehner negotiated with Senate Democrats in July's Budget Control Act.

But the fact remains that any three Members, upset that the mark is either too high or too low, could band together to shoot down Ryan's budget before it even sees the House floor.

Appropriators are concerned that their bills, which they hope to send to the president's desk by the Sept. 30 deadline, will get no support from the GOP Members forcing the spending cap cuts or Democrats objecting to the cuts.

The whole exercise is complicated by the sequestration process, which would force an additional $97 billion in discretionary spending cuts in fiscal 2013.

Members have confirmed that Ryan is considering fielding a separate reconciliation bill to deal with sequestration. The bill would instruct committees of jurisdiction to deal with the spending reductions, though it is unclear which committees and how the Budget Committee would ask them to break up the cuts.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon has been a proponent of turning the sequester off because he said cuts to defense would be harmful. He said reconciliation would be difficult to pull off, though, as a way to address the sequester.

"Any way we can fix it, we should do it," the California Republican said. "It would be a heavy lift, so I don't know if they can pull it off."

Of course, the arcane process will never get that far because the House must have someone to reconcile with. In order for the procedure to work, the Senate must pass a reconciliation bill as well. Senators will not and have indicated that they will pass appropriations bills in line with the BCA.

"We passed a budget [in the BCA]. Not a resolution, but a law. It's much more binding and effective," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who sits on the Budget Committee. "They want to cut deeper, and that would kind of break the agreement. That's going nowhere."

Still, House Members say the resolution could be effective in laying out election-year priorities.

"I think the point is to lay that marker out there and indicate that this is the preferred path forward," said Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), an appropriator. "I'm perfectly comfortable with that, and I don't think it's a great excuse to say, 'We're not going to put it in there because the Senate's not going to do anything.'"

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