House pulls its budget punches

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That’s a proposal that’s far too politically radioactive for follow-up legislation, however, so Republicans are letting the nonbinding Ryan budget be the final word.

On a separate track, Republicans are reaching out to Democrats in follow-up legislation setting agency budgets, providing funding that’s generally in line with the budget deal with Obama for energy and water development programs, NASA and the Justice and Commerce departments. To hit the budget goals set by this year’s tougher GOP plan, the pragmatic-minded chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican, is concentrating the cuts in a handful of the 12 spending bills while making sure others have enough money to win Democratic support.

On Tuesday, Rogers unveiled the broad outlines for this year’s round of spending bills, focusing cuts in legislation funding job training, education, health care and transportation and housing, while

“We are committed to working together across the aisle and across both chambers to ensure continued funding for important government programs, projects, and services that the American people expect and deserve,” Rogers said in a statement.

The release of an energy and water bill last week that maintains spending at current levels rather than cutting it has prompted speculation that Republicans are stacking the early calendar with bills with relatively few cuts. The theory is that the GOP is leaving those bearing a larger, unsustainable share of the cuts to wait until the end, with lawmakers planning on rescuing them with last-minute money reaped by going back to the higher limits from last summer.

“We are … going to be interested to see whether they frontload bills to make them more palatable, leaving little resources left for the bills that are scheduled to come at the end,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

It’s commonly assumed, even by GOP lawmakers, that in the end the spending bills will conform to the higher, Obama-backed appropriations cap of 1.047 trillion instead of the $1.028 trillion included in this year’s GOP budget.

“To the extent that they do anything that looks more like [last year’s budget deal] as opposed to the Ryan budget, that’s not going to be acceptable to conservatives,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action, which advocates for conservative policies on Capitol Hill.

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