Spending bills on hold until budget resolved — Ryan

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) signaled yesterday that the fiscal 2017 spending bills won’t come to the floor until the House sorts out its intraparty squabbling over the budget resolution.

While the House Appropriations Committee is set to launch its first markup of the year tomorrow, with the military construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill in subcommittee, Ryan said the bills won’t proceed to the floor until the budget is resolved.

“No, we need to do a budget,” Ryan said after huddling with his caucus this morning.

Ryan conceded that he still lacks the votes to pass a budget resolution at the $1.07 trillion level in discretionary spending for the 12 spending bills, telling reporters that “family conversations” with his GOP colleagues continue (E&E Daily, March 22).

The budget impasse threatens a top priority for Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who both want to pass all 12 spending bills individually.

Appropriators on both sides of the Capitol are writing the bills to the spending cap included in last year’s budget deal, despite opposition from conservatives who want to see the cap reduced by $30 billion.

Pressed on how the bills will move from committee without the issue resolved, Ryan responded, “I don’t know the answer to that question yet.

“We’re still trying to have that family conversation with our members,” he said.

But in the interim, appropriators are moving ahead with a predetermined schedule for writing the bills — a time frame shortened by the election year.

“The appropriators aren’t going to wait around, then be caught flat-footed without their work done,” Ryan said. “So the appropriators are getting their work done, getting ready to bring those to the floor should we be able to pass a budget.”

House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) has already said that bill will be ready for markup after recess. “We’re ready to go,” he told reporters last night.

Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) this morning said it is unclear when that particularly controversial bill will be marked up, saying the decision rests with Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.).

“We intend to have all the bills done by July,” he told Greenwire.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) criticized the GOP impasse, noting that Republicans are “so deeply divided,” they can’t muster 218 votes even with the largest House majority in 86 years.

“What appears is they may abandon all budget discipline to get to where they want to get on appropriations bills,” he told reporters, adding that Republicans “apparently” lack the votes to even “deem” the spending cap agreed to in December. “What appears is they may abandon all budget discipline to get to where they want to get on appropriations bills,” he said.

He declined to comment on whether Democrats would once again step in and help Republicans move the bills, but repeated a quote made by Ryan as Budget chairman in 2011.

“Speaker Ryan said, ‘The United States Congress has a moral and legal obligation to propose and pass a budget,'” Hoyer said. “Speaker Ryan is apparently unable to get his party to do that.”

Reporter Amanda Reilly contributed.