Politics

Ryan Lays Out Budget Options, House Freedom Caucus Remains Skeptical

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

House Speaker [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] walked members of the Republican conference through three different options on how to handle the 2017 budget process in a closed-door budget meeting Friday. He advocated sticking to levels agreed upon in the deal struck between former Speaker [crscore]John Boehner[/crscore] and President Barack Obama last year.

According to a GOP source inside the room, the Wisconsin Republican said the House could pass a budget at sequester levels, which would likely be blocked by the Senate and lead to another omnibus bill; “plus-up defense,” which would also lead to a continuing resolution or omnibus bill, or pass a budget that reflects their vision but still falls in line with the legislation passed last year and allowing Congress to restore regular order.

“The speaker opened up the budget and appropriations playbook, the realities, and the options. And he stressed the conference has a chance to do big things in 2017 if they play their cards right,” the source said, adding Ryan told members the decision is in their hands. “While he strongly believes we should, Ryan stated that the conference doesn’t have to do a budget and appropriations bills — they’re not staring down a cliff.”

Conservatives have been highly critical of the increased spending levels agreed upon last fall, calling for cuts in the wake of the national debt recently passing the $19 trillion mark.

“The majority of Republicans in the House and Senate opposed last year’s October budget agreement. Republicans in Congress need to unify around a conservative budget and appropriations process that shows we recognize the danger of our debt levels,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman [crscore]Jim Jordan[/crscore] told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “We need to do what we told the American people we would do when they sent us here: Stop the out of control spending and prioritize the needs of ordinary Americans.”

Using graphs to illustrate his pitch, the former House Committee on Ways and Means chairman said the difference in spending levels between FY 2016 and 2017 is $3 billion – $2.97 billion of which would go toward defense. Ryan questioned members of his party on whether it would be worth giving up appropriations bills, a balanced budget, entitlement reform and reconciliation for just $40 million.

Rep. [crscore]Mark Meadows[/crscore] of North Carolina said he is “cautiously optimistic” after the meeting, but feels there are “still tough decisions to be made.”

“I’m grateful to Speaker Ryan for listening to the concerns of the entire conference and helping us work toward a solution that works for the American people,” he told TheDCNF in a statement.

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