It seems Speaker John Boehner has finally suffered enough body blows from his caucus that he's playing with nothing to lose.
Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report
that Boehner is going big on the House budget and also working to pass a permanent solution to the annual Medicare reimbursement shortfall that forces Congress to pass the so-called "doc fix" every year. He and his top lieutenants plan to "jam" them both through the House.
First, to get a budget approved, the Republican leaders intend to employ a parliamentary maneuver to boost defense spending by $20 billion without any corresponding spending cuts. They’re betting the move will help break a stalemate between fiscal hardliners and defense hawks.
Within days of that, the GOP leaders will try to pass a permanent fix to the “Sustainable Growth Rate,” a formula by which the federal government reimburses doctors who serve Medicare patients.
Boehner has been working with
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the doc fix because he'll need Democratic votes to pass it.
And he's outsourced the budget battle to GOP Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), who will pretty much need to scrape together the 217 votes from the GOP caucus alone since few Democrats will support the budget. Naturally, conserva-groups are already moaning and groaning about increased spending.
Outside conservative groups including Heritage Action are already agitating against the Medicare reimbursement deal, claiming it will increase the deficit by $400 billion over the next two decades, far more than Boehner is asserting.
And fiscal conservatives are fuming about busting spending caps put into law four years ago to preclude these kinds of maneuvers.
Nice to see Republicans stumbling over a trap they set four years ago when they took over the majority. That's got fiscal hawks pretty upset. They want the increased defense spending and the doc fix to be offset by cuts elsewhere.
“It’s a $3.8 trillion budget,” said Rep. Tom McClintock, a California conservative who serves on the Budget Committee. “We ought to be able to find $20 billion to cut somewhere.”
Boehner's ace in the hole is the man tasked with vote counting, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-1), who ran into a little hiccup
Wednesday night when the budget stalled in the House Budget Committee.
The late-night drama raised more questions about the vote-counting skills of Scalise — who this time had trouble not with the 218 votes needed to get a bill through the House, but the 19 needed to ensure the budget passed through committee.
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