House GOP Leaders Prepare For Budget Battle (Updated)

Wednesday's budget vote was a win for Scalise and the rest of the GOP leadership team. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Wednesday's budget vote was a win for Scalise and the rest of the GOP leadership team. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 24, 2015 at 11:35am

Updated 12:54 p.m. |  At their weekly news conference Tuesday morning, House Republican leaders went on the offensive to sell their budget resolution.  

One aspect of the pitch — along with the fact that their budget balances and doesn’t raise taxes — focuses on the spending plan’s proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In the event the House and Senate go to conference on their two fiscal blueprints, a procedural gambit known as “reconciliation” could, they argue, accomplish that goal. The timing for such a pitch is fortuitous: The House is due to begin consideration of its official budget and a number of outliers Tuesday afternoon, just a day after the five-year anniversary of the 2010 health law’s enactment.  

GOP leaders are confident their preferred framework, one spearheaded by Budget Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., with new language to boost military spending in the Overseas Contingency Operations account, will prevail — but there remains some risk that it won’t get the sufficient number of votes to pass the chamber, given likely opposition from fiscal hawks who don’t want to add any more money to the deficit.  

Majority Whip Steve Scalise said leadership would begin counting votes Tuesday to make sure the support was there. The Louisiana Republican last week caused some heartburn when he misjudged whether there was adequate support inside the Budget Committee to add the additional OCO funds, which forced the panel to report out the measure sans the amendment.  

At the news conference Tuesday morning, he disagreed with the premise that his tenure as whip had gotten off to a rocky start.  

“Our whip counts have never been off on the floor,” Scalise said.  

At his weekly press briefing later on Tuesday morning, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., called the GOP budget “ill-conceived and unrealistic.”  

He also slammed Republican leadership for bringing multiple budgets to the floor under a procedural maneuver called “Queen of the Hill.” In this scenario, instead of voting on various budget proposals from other House factions as amendments to the underlying GOP budget, members vote on standalone budgets and the one with the most votes at the end of the day gets sent over to the Senate.  

Hoyer said this strategy was a gimmick, one that was being used to “paper over” the “deep divisions within the party.”