The House floor today will become the Baskin-Robbins of budgets: Every political persuasion has its own flavor.
Members have already said they will double-dip and vote for multiple spending plans, but with seven budgets to consider during floor debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s blueprint is the only one that can pass the chamber.
Even if the Wisconsin Republican’s $1.028 trillion plan wins out, however, it would be a symbolic victory at best. Democratic leadership has pointed out that last summer’s Budget Control Act is the law of the land and they and the Senate will stick to its $1.047 trillion level.
“Everybody knows that Ryan’s budget is not going to be taken up by the Senate and passed. So it will be deemed here, but effectively as a means of balancing the budget it’s dead,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R- Idaho), a member of the Budget Committee who said he will vote for the Ryan’s plan.
As a result, Simpson and other House moderates engaged on Tuesday, hoping, amid, or perhaps because of, the partisan bickering, they can sneak a balanced deficit reduction deal through the House.
Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) are gathering support for a plan modeled on the deficit reduction solutions suggested by a White House-commissioned panel led by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Clinton-era White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.
“Whereas all the other proposals have a snowball’s chance in a microwave of actually becoming something enacted in the Senate, this one’s got a shot,” LaTourette said Tuesday.
Cooper almost offered the same proposal last year, but he said he pulled it after a request from the bipartisan “gang of six” Senators working on deficit reduction. This year, Cooper said, he has their blessing.
Still, Sen. Mark Warner, a member of the gang of six, was not hot on the idea Tuesday.
“I share the intent,” the Virginia Democrat said. “It’d be great to have more time to build the case and lay out the details. But I also understand the frustrations of continuing to wait.”
Still, Mike Simpson said there is some discussion about whether now is the right time.
“You’re trying to put a common-sense, balanced solution to the problem in the middle of the most partisan debate that will occur in Congress,” he said. “In this environment, you’ll have people that would otherwise vote for Simpson-Bowles that would vote against it because they’re going to vote for the Ryan budget or they’re going to vote for the [Democratic] budget on the other side.”
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