Kenneth Gold | February 24, 2016
By far the most interesting and important political dynamic to watch in the Second Session will be relations between Speaker Ryan and ultra-conservatives in his own party. The first real test of that will come when the House Budget Committee issues its FY17 spending plan.
The 2015 Bipartisan Budget Agreement set discretionary levels for this year and next, but conservatives in the caucus have recently indicated that they’re unwilling to support the agreed-to spending levels, which raise discretionary spending by $50 billion this year, and $30 billion in FY17.
In order to appease fiscal hawks, Chairman Price has reportedly agreed to a budget framework that would cut $30 billion in mandatory spending, although such a plan would seem to violate House rules on the budget process, and possibly the 1974 Budget Impoundment and Control Act, which provides for the current budget process, as well.
And while a provision that offsets the $30 billion spending increase may appease fiscal hawks, some or all of those cuts in mandatory spending would need to come out of Social Security and/or Medicare, which is unlikely to garner widespread support, even among Republicans, in an election year. Nor is this sort of maneuver consistent with Speaker Ryan’s goal to return to regular order. We’ll be watching this closely over the next several weeks.