After months of partisan wrangling and GOP threats to let the U.S. default for the first time in history, Democrats and Republicans reached a budget deal in August to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. As Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) himself conceded, the deal was a lopsided victory for Republicans, consisting entirely of cuts with no revenue increases. “I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy,” Boehner said afterward.
But apparently 98 percent is no longer good enough, and the Republican House leadership is gunning for the last 2 percent. Politico reports that the GOP is considering reneging on the compromise to force even deeper budget cuts:
In a surprising bit of hardball, House Republicans confirmed that they had been actively considering a plan to tamper with the August budget agreement by cutting even more from 2012 spending in order to put pressure on Senate Democrats to come to terms faster on domestic bills for the coming fiscal year.
Instead of the agreed-upon appropriations target of $1.043 trillion, a stopgap continuing resolution or CR this week would be calibrated at a lower $1.035 trillion level. The idea – promoted by Speaker John Boehner — was to effectively withhold about $8 billion for the first two months of the fiscal year, with the money becoming available only as Senate Democrats come to terms with the House on the dozen annual spending bills that cover government operations.
This GOP strategy is driven by the party’s desire to prevent further defense cuts and use the budget to advance its anti-regulatory agenda. Whatever the justification, their reckless decision to go back on their word risks yet another government shutdown.
Republicans’ reneging on the deal could still be averted: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the chief architect of the August deal, is said to be strongly opposed to tampering with the $1.043 trillion target. Final decisions by the House Appropriations Committee are expected Wednesday or Thursday, so Boehner and his cohorts will reveal by then whether they will honor their agreement with President Obama or once again hold the country hostage to get what they want.