House Republicans spent most of their time over the last three years reminding Americans that Senate Democrats hadn’t passed a budget in two, then three, then four years. It was a regular Republican talking point, a particular favorite of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s. But now that the Senate has returned to regular order by passing a budget, House Republicans are refusing to come to the table to negotiate a long-term spending plan.
Republicans passed their own budget, the plan Ryan authored, in March, and since the proposal differs from the Senate budget, regular order requires the two chambers to come together in conference to iron out their differences in a compromise budget that is then taken back to the full memberships of each house. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has hinted at forming such a conference for more than a week, but Republicans have shown no willingness to join him. This morning, Senate Republicans blocked Reid from creating a conference committee, a move that led Reid to accuse them of turning “a complete 180”:
“It seems House Republicans don’t want to be seen even discussing the possibility of compromise with the Democrats for fear of a Tea Party revolt,” Reid said.
He noted that Republicans have called for “regular order” for years.
“A strange thing happened: House Republicans did a complete 180 — they flipped. They’re no longer interested in regular order even though they preached that for years,” Reid said.
The GOP offered numerous excuses for why they wouldn’t approve a conference, including that certain rules need to be worked out. Ryan and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, have said they need to agree to “framework” for a deal to make a compromise more likely.
What that “framework” would need to be to get Republicans to agree to conference, however, is clear: a deal that cuts spending but includes no new tax revenue. That has been a consistent GOP demand throughout budget and spending fights over the last three years, a sticking point that has brought the government to the brink of both shutdown and default. It’s also a concession Democrats and President Obama are unwilling to make, given that they have already agreed to nearly $2.5 trillion in spending cuts while receiving little revenue in exchange. Any new deal, in fact, would have to achieve 90 percent of its deficit reduction from tax revenue to balance the overall reductions achieved in the last four years.