Budget talks have begun in the House of Representatives and Senate and already the deals are looking damaging. Will Dobbs-Allsopp, in a very well written piece for the Morning Consult, lays out the difficulties.
The House plan goes something like this. At the urging of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Price would write a budget that maintained boosted spending levels from a budget deal last fall. That would stand even though Republicans, including Price himself, opposed that agreement by a 2-1 ratio.
The broad Republican opposition to those funding levels means that the Georgian will have to find a way to win over scores of GOP members who had already publicly opposed the new spending caps. Congressional budgets are typically partisan documents, so relying on House Democrats to make up the lost votes isn’t an option.
But Price has seen a silver bullet in new reconciliation instructions. By triggering the budget tool that enabled congressional Republicans to get as close as they have ever come to repealing Obamacare, Price could entice his Republican colleagues to support the budget with the promise of getting some other conservative legislative priority to the president’s desk. His preference has been to target some kind of welfare overhaul.
I, unlike many of my grassroots brethren, was happy that Ryan and McConnell actually sent an ObamaCare Repeal to the President, successfully got all the Democrats on record in an election year, and demonstrated that they were willing to make a go of it. I understand that the more jaded among us (and rightfully so) were furious that this wasn’t attached to must-pass legislation.
Now, I may not live in the 7th District, but I know many of the folks who live there well. I know the Dave Brat constituency. Many of them were not happy with what they felt was a “pretend battle” on Obamacare. So, when I read the following, I thought to myself, “UhOh! Dave’s folks aren’t going to like this”.
Rep. David Brat (R-Va.), a member of both the Budget Committee and the Freedom Caucus, said he could see himself voting for a budget resolution along the lines of what Price has mapped out, but only if he had written confirmation that his Senate colleagues would follow suit.
“The only thing that will get me to go the reconciliation way is if it’s a promise down on paper and it has a Senate signature of Mitch McConnell,” Brat said in an interview Tuesday.
For many, these comments are an indication that Congressman Brat is ready to fold, to settle for slight spending increases or even settle for no spending decreases.
I’m not sure that’s entirely the case.
In the not so very distant past, Congressman Dave Brat said that he would support then-Congressman Ryan for Speaker, if Congressman Ryan would sign a pledge devised by the Freedom Caucus. Congressman Ryan refused to do so and Congressman Brat refused to back Ryan for Speaker. This is a decision, that after the last month of 2015, makes Congressman Brat look like a genius-level prognosticator.
So is our conquering hero in Virginia 7th wavering under the pressure of his peers, or is he simply doing what he’s always done, refusing to play the game the way it’s always been played? I can’t speak for the Congressman, but what I imagine he’s up to is to say, “yes, I’m willing to work with anyone, so long as they put their promises on paper”. Dave Brat is no fool and he knows that a promise from a Washington Politician is worth less than a peso in San Antonio. So I wouldn’t be too concerned, since McConnell won’t be putting down anything in writing. Not now… not ever. McConnell is old enough to remember the Nixon Tapes.
This habit of Congressman Brat’s to request signed pledges goes against everything Washington D.C. has stood for: lies, liars, and the fools that believe them. Congressman Brat is no fool. Frankly it reminds me of a scene from Clear and Present Danger, when Ritter is waving his signed permission slip in Jack Ryan’s face saying, “Do you have one of these?”.
These budget negotiations are a bloodsport and Congressman Brat is in the thick of it. I am certain that the Congressman won’t settle for less than what he thinks is right, but the negotiations are worth watching anyway.