The 2014 budget deal developed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan includes a hidden Election-Day boost to endangered Democratic senators, and helps Democrats pass spending increases, say conservatives.
The boost is a change to the Senate’s debating and voting rules, which will allow Majority Leader Harry Reid to stage high-profile spending votes that would give his Democratic senators something to boast about next November.
“What Ryan did was hand Reid an agenda for next year and [allow favorable] political votes for his caucus,” said one former leadership staffer who opposes the budget deal agreed to by Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
For example, Reid can stage votes so that endangered Democrats can portray themselves as passing popular increases in education spending, the former staffer said.
Ryan “is basically giving them 30-second ads to run in their campaigns,” while also forcing House Republicans to fend off Senate-approved spending increases, he said.
The deal, which was passed by the House last week, “undermines the right of Senators to enforce spending limits and block tax increases by raising a key point of order,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, the GOP budget chairman, said in a Monday statement. “In the aftermath of the nuclear option, this further erosion of Senators’ rights should be opposed by members of both parties.”
The hidden clause “was totally unexpected and a genuine surprise to our experienced committee analysts when they unearthed it after the legislation became public,” Sessions said.
The deal also shows how the GOP leaders in the House are working with Democratic leaders to build a “grand coalition of the establishment” that is intended to marginalize the GOP’s core voters in the tea party groups, said the former staff member.
The emerging establishment coalition, he said, will likely unite in February to push an immigration bill that would provide 30 million green cards to Democratic-leaning immigrant workers during the next decade.
The point was pushed by Michael Needham, the head of Heritage Action for America. “The Speaker is trying to turn this into a boring fight between outside groups and himself so that we are not having a policy debate about whether or not this is a good deal,” he said.
“They want to clear the way for immigration,” Needham said.
Ryan is a major proponent of increased immigration, but has declined to promote the controversial goal in public.
The Ryan-Murray budget faces a close vote on Tuesday, partly because most GOP senators, and a few Democratic senators, have announced they oppose the deal.
Reid needs all the help he can get to hold his narrow 10-vote majority in the Senate past the November election.
He approved the Ryan-Murray deal, which provides benefits to both parties’ leaders.
For example, the budget deal prevents the Democrats from shutting down government and using their media allies to blame the GOP for the shutdown.
In turn, the Democrats gain $63 billion in extra spending during 2014 and 2015, which will be partly offset by raised taxes or fees. Most of the offset, $47 billion, will consist of spending cuts slated for 2022 and 2023. The deal also trims military retirement funds, while blocking cuts to civil-service pensions.
The bill also reverses $31.6 billion in Pentagon cuts.
President Barack Obama and Reid have only a 10-vote advantage in the 100-seat chamber, and current polls show that they would lose his majority if the election was held today.
If the GOP gets control of the Senate in November, Republicans would be able to shut down much of Obama’s regulatory goals.
The boost is hidden in complex language, and is denied by staffers working for Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and for Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.