With the Republican Congress committed to producing a reconciled budget but unable to do it last week, Rebecca Shabad, staff writer for The Hill, was on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to update the status of budget negotiations in an interview with host Greta Wodele Brawner, who asked Shabad to review why a budget resolution is needed.
Shabad explained that the budget process, which dates back to 1974, is designed to produce a nonbinding resolution that sets guidelines for the appropriations committees and that with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, they will use the budget as a "messaging document to set their political priorities in advance of 2016." The Republicans are eager to show that they can produce a budget, since they used the failure of the Democratic Senate to act on House budgets as an issue in the 2014 election that brought Republicans to power in the Senate.
Brawner asked how different the respective versions might be, given that both chambers are controlled by Republicans. Shabad emphasized that a lot of preparation has already taken place since late March when the initial versions were produced. Asked what the sticking points are, Shabad listed defense spending first, where Republicans are relying on raising a "war fund" to the level of $96 billion as a means of getting around sequester caps set back in 2011. There are differences on Medicare and Medicaid that Shabad described as "pretty drastic."
Brawner cleverly posed her next question as which group of Republican "hawks" will prevail, the "defense hawks" or the "budget hawks." Shabad described a "procedural hurdle" the Senate has created that beyond $58 billion, any spending on the "war fund" is subject to a point of order that requires a supermajority of 60 votes to sustain the spending.
Next Brawner asked how the two houses are trying to use the reconciliation process to repeal Obamacare, the same process Democrats used to pass Obamacare in the first place. Shabad reported that the Senate has the Obamacare repeal as one of a limited number of objectives for the reconciliation process, whereas House Republicans are open to "flexible" use of this process to address a broader range of as many as 13 issues specified by House committees, including how to deal with a possible win by plaintiffs in the King v Burwell case currently pending before the Supreme Court that tests the constitutionality of Obamacare.
However, the bills the Republicans are preparing to move are all likely targets for presidential vetoes. Shabad warned that as Republicans send bills to the White House and they are vetoed, the result could be a showdown over another government shutdown when the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
Earlier, National Journal Staff Correspondent Sarah Mimms had discussed the agenda of Congress for the week beginning Monday. Mimms told Brawner that the Senate is picking up where it left off on a human trafficking bill, confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General and creating a role for Congress regarding the Iran nuclear deal. The House is working on cybersecurity legislation, and both bodies will be conferring on the budget reconciliation. She made clear that even though the April 15 deadline has already passed, there is no hard deadline, and the two budget documents "are really not that different." On the fast track trade authority, subject of yesterday's article
, Mimms predicted that action would probably not occur this week.
(Archived video can be found here
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