A New G.O.P. Battle Begins as Republicans Look to Pass a Budget
WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress may be locked in an internal battle over their stumbling health legislation, but on Tuesday the fight begins over another herculean legislative lift: the budget.
The House Budget Committee unveiled a blueprint of its 2018 budget resolution on Tuesday morning, setting up a potentially heated debate over the fractious Republican Party’s fiscal priorities for the coming year. The resolution is of particular importance this year because Republicans must pass it to unlock a procedural tool that would allow them to overhaul the tax code without the support of any Democrats.
The budget calls for a $621.5 billion national defense budget for 2018 and $511 billon for nondefense spending. It also calls for at least $203 billion in cuts over a decade in “mandatory” spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Perhaps most importantly, it instructs the House Ways and Means Committee to produce deficit-neutral tax legislation that would reduce tax rates and simplify the tax code.
“In past years, our proposals had little chance of becoming a reality because we faced a Democratic White House,” said Representative Diane Black, Republican of Tennessee and chairwoman of the House Budget Committee. “But now with a Republican Congress and a Republican administration, now is the time to put forward a governing document with real solutions to address our biggest challenges.”
But significant challenges await the House budget effort, and the infighting over health care has shown that Republicans are unlikely to reach an agreement easily on difficult pieces of legislation.
On Monday, Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he did not think the proposed budget could win full House approval. He said he first wants it to include deeper spending cuts and more details on the principles of tax reform.
The House budget proposal calls for more military spending than the budget produced by the White House. That proposed increase would break the caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Changing that would require the support of Democrats.
Unlike Mr. Trump’s budget, the House spending plan imposes cuts to the safety-net programs that the president promised as a candidate not to touch.
Despite the differences, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, praised the outline.
“The administration urges the House Budget Committee, the full House and the Senate to move forward on a pro-growth budget resolution that supports the administration’s goals of a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility and sustained economic growth,” Mr. Mulvaney said.
The House Budget Committee is scheduled to hold a markup on the resolution on Wednesday.