01.15.2018 0

GOP Congress cancelling budget in 2018 would be a huge mistake

By Robert Romano

In 2018, there are about five or six must-pass pieces of legislation that the Republican Congress will have to enact their agenda items before the end of the year. They include the 2018 omnibus spending bill due Jan. 19, the debt ceiling, President Donald Trump’s March 5 deadline on DACA, the budget, the continuing resolution due Sept. 30 and whatever 2019 omnibus spending bill follows.

Of those, all require 60 votes margins in the Senate to overcome the cloture rule, except for the budget, which can pass with a simple 51 vote majority.

This same process was the only reason Congress was able to pass tax cuts, open ANWR and repeal the Obamacare individual mandate.

In other words, the budget was the only reason Republicans have been able to get much of anything done on the legislative front.

It was therefore disconcerting to many leaders in and out of Congress that Republican leaders are reportedly considering scrapping using the budget reconciliation process.

According to a report from the Politico’s Rachael Bade and Sarah Ferris, “White House and Hill GOP leaders discussed the possibility of forgoing the painful budget process during last weekend’s Camp David legislative summit, according to four sources familiar with the talks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that he cannot pass controversial deficit-reduction legislation using powerful budget procedures with his new 51-vote majority — and wasn’t even sure he could find the votes for a fiscal blueprint in the first place.”

If true, this means that, basically, Republicans do not believe they will be able to pass any legislation in 2018 without Democrats, significantly diminishing GOP objectives that might be achieved. It also grants significant leverage to Democrats on all the other aforementioned bills including the omnibus, the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution.

In short, it would be a complete surrender by the Republican Congress, a majority in name only.

Here’s the thing: What makes Republicans think they’ll have wider majorities in 2019 if they’re not accomplishing GOP objectives in 2018?

To be certain, there’s a plethora of items that should be fought for, even if not every battle is won.

The rest of Obamacare besides the individual mandate still needs to be repealed, including the employer mandate, the insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion.

Legislative riders can be used to eliminate Obama era regulations including defunding the Clean Power Plan, the Carbon Endangerment Finding and other economy-killing rules.

Implementing the President’s budget including items to reform welfare programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid. Institute mandatory workfare requirements.

The President has priorities on infrastructure, typically a Democrat priority. Surely those could be cobbled with other Republican priorities to get something across the finish line.

Instituting the President’s agenda on immigration by adopting the “Securing America’s Future Act,” by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas). That bill ends chain migration, ends the visa lottery, builds the southern border wall where needed, defunds sanctuary cities and implements a national E-Verify system.

Spending bills, especially the budget, provide valuable vehicles to get these things done. Again, it’s the only reason the tax bill, ANWR and the individual mandate got done.

Without the budget, Republicans will be depending on 60 votes in the Senate to get their agenda through. Which is to say, it will be that much harder to get through. While Republicans still have majorities, they need to be using them, otherwise in November, voters might just sit on their hands.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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