“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.”
Indeed, one of the Simpson-Bowles plan’s boosters, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), declined to say Tuesday whether he would support the deal.
Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) predicted many Democrats could support the Simpson-Bowles budget, but LaTourette was skeptical, holding that the political allure of bashing the GOP on Medicare would be too great to resist.
“I think some of the higher-ups in the Democratic Party are very much looking forward to beating us like baby seals over the Medicare thing in the Ryan budget and they don’t want to lose that message,” he said.
Though the Ryan budget will likely lose more than a few GOP votes, conservatives who initially spurned it are falling in line.
Even as Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan presented his own budget Tuesday morning, he acknowledged that he and many others in the RSC will back Ryan. “I think the vast majority of folks up here are going to support the Conference budget because that’s the one budget that can get 218 votes and pass,” the Ohio Republican said.
The RSC budget balances the budget sooner than Ryan’s does, and that should attract GOP support, said Budget Vice Chairman Scott Garrett, an RSC member.
“I would suggest that every member of the Republican Conference, who just several months ago ... voted for a balanced budget amendment ... have to think long and hard when the only budget that comes to the floor this week that will actually fulfill that promise will be the RSC budget,” the New Jersey lawmaker said.
The RSC budget nearly passed last year, when Democrats voted “present,” leaving only Republicans represented in the vote tally. Similar high jinks could occur at Thursday’s floor vote.
Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has presented a Democratic budget and is flanked to his left by alternatives from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) has sponsored President Barack Obama’s budget as an amendment, essentially daring Democrats to vote for it.
Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Ryan’s budget will probably be taken up in the Senate, too, as will the Obama budget and one from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Unlike Van Hollen, Sessions said he will likely not present a minority caucus alternative, laying the blame for that on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).