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Paul Ryan Budget May Expose GOP Rift

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan speaks at a news conference Tuesday on his budget, the “Path to Prosperity.”

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a veteran appropriator, said that dynamic has led to frustration among his peers, who say they are unable to do their work.

“There are some people who won’t vote for anything which represents to them too large an appropriation,” the New Jersey Republican said.

One House GOP aide expressed skepticism that those Members would vote for a CR after previously voting for lower spending levels. Instead, the aide worried that Members could try to extract even more spending cuts, to the detriment of Republicans in the November elections.

“It could place Members in the awkward situation of looking like they are changing positions on the topline level,” the aide said. “It’s possible that some may balk at this prospect, refuse to vote for a continuing resolution, and therefore risk a government shutdown just weeks before the election.”

That would allow Democrats to say Republicans want to shut down the government, as they did last year when dragged-out fights over spending and the debt limit helped lead to all-time low Congressional approval ratings.

At the same time, Senators of both parties have said that they should not budge from the BCA number of $1.047 trillion. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) took the first procedural steps Tuesday to start the budget process with the BCA’s number.

“The BCA that passed is the law of the land and the levels were set in August and we have to stick to them,” a Senate Democratic aide said.

Because both sides are unwavering, Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), another veteran appropriator and a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), acknowledged that a CR will most likely have to pass on a “bipartisan vote” in the House.

“With the Senate not doing anything, it’s absolutely going to be a CR at the end of the year,” he said.

But while a bipartisan vote was necessary last year, when dozens of Republicans turned their backs on leadership to vote against spending bills, Jordan said the state of play looks different this year.

“If the choice is ... spending at [$1.047 trillion] for a full year or spending at [$1.043 trillion] for a short-term CR, I think Republican Members understand what’s better for taxpayers,” he said.

But the GOP aide said the scenario is unpalatable either way, especially because it could expose Senate Republicans who voted for the BCA last year to attacks that they are not as conservative as their House counterparts, especially in a year when control of the chamber is up for grabs.

“The BCA makes massive cuts — over $900 billion in discretionary alone — yet different toplines could spur unfair comparisons between the Senate and House GOP,” the aide said.

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