- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2018

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday that the budget deal he’s asking members to vote for will rebuild a military hollowed from years of spending restraints, and said shortchanging troops isn’t the answer to an exploding debt.

“The military is not the reason we’ve got fiscal problems. It is entitlements,” Mr. Ryan said, blaming the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for a deficit that’s likely to top $1 trillion a year for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Ryan said he plans to take on those programs — though Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump have already ruled that out.

The House GOP is fractured by the new budget, which envisions $80 billion in new defense spending and $63 billion in new domestic discretionary spending in 2018, as well as nearly $90 billion in emergency disaster relief.

“What, are we not going to rebuild Houston?” Mr. Ryan chided lawmakers preparing to vote “No” on the deal.

Some conservatives said they were willing to accept the defense hikes but not the domestic money. Others wanted to maintain the limits across the board, saying that after reducing government revenue in the tax bill, the GOP promised to tighten the government’s belt to live within the new limits.

Mr. Ryan said that can come later, through entitlement reforms and through a new congressional commission intended to suggest budget process reforms.

That Super Committee 2.0 is supposed to recommend ways that Congress won’t find itself limping along on stopgap spending bills and facing government shutdown showdowns every other year.

The bill Mr. Ryan is stumping for would be the fifth such stopgap in fiscal year 2018. It would give Congress another six weeks to write the bills to spend the additional $143 billion in cash they’d approve.

The bill also suspends the government’s credit card limit, allowing as much borrowing as it takes to keep the government open through March 2019.

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