The Republican Study Committee is considering offering a budget plan that would balance the budget by the end of the decade.
The RSC budget would go further than Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s plan, which is expected to balance the budget in a decade. Instead, the RSC spending blueprint will aim to do so in about seven years.
The divergent plans aren’t out of the ordinary since the past few budget seasons have featured competing Republican blueprints. But the RSC plan is a reflection of the group’s identity as the conservative rudder of the Republican Party. It goes without saying that each year, no matter how far the mainstream GOP budget goes, the RSC’s will go further.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said that has the benefit of moving the party to the right.
“A year ago Paul Ryan stood on the floor and advocated for a budget that balanced in 26 years,” King said. “This year, by the first of April, you will see him on the floor advocating for a budget that balances in 10 or less. I think that’s a huge leap forward. Republicans have come a long way.”
Still, that does not mean members who vote for the RSC budget will spurn Ryan. Although a few members rejected Ryan’s plan last year in favor of the RSC alternative, many voted for both. This year, there seems to be more accord in the party and more willingness to accept Ryan’s 10-year path to balance.
“It’s definitely a yes-yes strategy,” emailed one conservative aide. “Vote yes on RSC as a statement of what we wish we could do in the Conference budget (and to pull future Conference budgets to the right), and then vote yes on the Conference budget as the next best thing.”
That portends an easy path to passage for Ryan, who last year struggled to move his budget out of committee. The new committee makeup does not hurt either; Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., was removed from the panel’s roster in part because of his vote against Ryan’s plan.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who is an appropriator and a member of the RSC, said he plans to vote for both budgets, although he often takes more mainstream positions from the RSC’s most hard-core members,
He said his is a more prudent strategy compared with those of some of his colleagues, who would vote solely for the RSC budget as a statement, even though it cannot garner the necessary 218 votes to pass.
“I’m going to vote for that. I’m going to try to get as many votes for it as I possibly can, but if I can’t I’ll go for whatever the conference can coalesce around,” he said. “Where I have disagreements with some of my colleagues is they won’t move to the next logical point: What can we get 218 for?”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.