Some lawmakers and experts dispute the notion that a new budget resolution laden with conservative policies would be a drag on GOP electoral prospects, arguing it may help Republicans energize their base amid the typical low turnout of midterm elections.
“It is an election year. People are concerned. I understand,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a Budget Committee member who is also on the whip team. But he said it will help Republicans politically to set out their agenda if the GOP captures control of the Senate and eventually the presidency.
“I think it will help more than hurt because it motivates your own people,” Cole said. “This is one of the few things we’ve actual been pretty unified on. And I think it’s a strong signal to our base that if we can deliver the election victories that we need, we’re prepared to make some really tough decisions.”
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal blueprint is shaping up to be more political than previous budget resolutions that served largely as a manifestos of party policy. That’s in part because it is an election year, but also because there is no chance of conferencing with the Senate; Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., will not write a budget because the fiscal 2015 discretionary spending limit is already set in the deal (PL 113-67) passed by Congress in December.
Some budget experts think it will be difficult, if not impossible, for GOP leaders to get enough Republican votes to adopt the Ryan budget resolution because it is expected to include deeper and more accelerated spending cuts than the Wisconsin Republican’s past budgets.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has not yet committed to bringing one to the floor in private meetings with lawmakers, according to Republicans, which may signal caution in leadership ranks about taking up a deeply partisan measure. And although there have been suggestions the Budget Committee may take up the resolution as early as April 2, the panel has not said when a markup in planned.
Cole said the House Republican Conference “needs to go out and prove to our base again, we back what Ryan says, that does represent the economic vision and thinking of our conference and we’re willing to make the statement and put it out there.”
Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said in off-year elections, both parties will try to rally loyalists and “the Ryan budget will be music to tea party and other conservatives’ ears. Just another version of ‘It’s Time for a Change,’ the most durable campaign slogan in American history.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.