But because the Senate is unlikely to go along with the House, he will still be able to agree to higher levels when what now seems like an almost inevitable continuing resolution is considered in late September.
The real question is what good any of this will do.
If it adopts a budget resolution with spending levels below those agreed to last August, the House is virtually guaranteeing the Senate won’t consider a budget resolution of its own this year (something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already acknowledged in any case).
In the unlikely event the Senate did move forward with a budget resolution, it would be forced to explain its differences with the House, feeding an issue that would last through the year. The better strategy for Senate Democrats would be to wait until the fiscal year begins and the House GOP has to decide whether it wants to threaten a government shutdown a month before Election Day.
The better question is what the GOP thinks it will be accomplishing politically. Getting the reduced levels in the budget resolution but not in the appropriations bills may seem to the base like the same type of hollow victory the GOP has won on other budget issues, and it could create disappointment so close to the elections that the leadership won’t have the opportunity to explain it away. Republicans could also anger almost everyone by being blamed for the same type of fiscal cliffhanger next October that repeatedly reduced their approval ratings last year.
So the tea-party-led effort to get a budget resolution with lower spending levels than were agreed to in August isn’t likely to actually reduce spending, and one way or another, it will anger voters. That makes “ridiculous” and “infuriating” two of the milder things that can be said about it.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”
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