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Little Evidence of Major GOP Revolt on Budget Deal

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There wasn’t much of evidence of a major revolt against the budget deal brewing among House Republicans Wednesday morning, despite some opposition from those in the party’s right wing to an increase in fees on air travel and letting up even a little on the sequester spending cuts.

While some members spoke against the deal struck between Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., during a closed conference meeting, several senior Republicans and some of the party’s right wing told reporters they were inclined to back it and expect a majority of the conference to fall in line, despite opposition from groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.

“Every member is going to make their own decision, but I think it was very well received and I think it’s a good accomplishment in divided government, and I think it’s going to receive very strong support,” said Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the GOP’s chief deputy whip.

Republicans are going to whip the bill Wednesday and it could come to the floor Thursday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also predicted that a majority of Republicans would vote “yes” and a majority of Democrats would oppose the deal.

A lot of Republicans told CQ Roll Call that while they still need to look at the deal — and wished it dealt with Medicare and Social Security and other issues — they would eventually support it.

That includes several conservatives including Rep. John Fleming, R-La., and Dennis A. Ross of Florida. “There’s a lot to like about it,” Fleming said. Ross said Ryan sold it well to the conference.

But others aren’t sold.

Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky — a frequent thorn in the side of leadership — strongly rejected the deal.

“Yeah, I’m a no. … I want a clean CR,” Massie said, stopping in the Cannon tunnel to bang his hand against the wall to punctuate every word. “Just like I saw the Democrats ask for. I want what they want: a clean CR. I saw ’em back in October poundin’ the desk asking for that.”

And Massie questioned the hike in airplane security fees.

“Most of what they call revenue in there is a tax,” he said. “If the tax collected goes for the purpose on which it’s collected, then maybe it is a user fee. But it sounds to me like they’re trying to use that revenue number not to offset some kind of spending at the airports, but to make this deal look better.”

Massie said letting up on the sequester is his biggest problem.

“I’m not so much worried about the revenue side as I am the spending side because this bill increases spending. … If we have a spending problem, why would we increase our spending above current law?”

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho also came out against the deal.

“I’m undecided: I haven’t decided whether I’m a strong no or a really strong no,”  he quipped. “I think it’s a terrible plan. There’s no way we’re going to hold the line two years from now if we’re not willing to hold the line today.”

Matt Salmon of Arizona also said he’s likely to vote against it, saying he wanted more deficit reduction. He called the deal a “baby step” and said it should have at least been a “toddler step.”

Ted Yoho of Florida declined to comment on how he would vote, but predicted that the GOP would show “a lot of unity.”

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., the party’s most vocal advocate for replacing the sequester, cheered his leadership. He said speakers in the conference ran about 50-50 on the deal, but that wasn’t necessarily indicative of the support the package has in the conference.

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