Politics

House Committee Tees Up Budget Vote

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The House Budget Committee is slated to mark up its 2018 blueprint, which includes reconciliation instructions for tax reform, despite uncertainty on whether GOP leadership can rally the support to pass the measure if brought to the floor.

The markup comes after weeks of negotiations led by Budget Chairman Diane Black — who pushed committees to make significant cuts to mandatory spending — but both moderates and conservatives have expressed concerns. Members of the powerful House Freedom Caucus (HFC) are looking for cuts to go beyond $150 billion, while moderates feel that the reduction goes too far. Top conservatives have also called for more details on tax reform before they agree to vote for the bill.

“A bunch of us said we can be flexible on that [the mandatory spending levels] if you tell us the other big pieces that we need to know, the bottleneck — health care, board adjustment, the debt ceiling — that’s all part of the puzzle,” Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the HFC, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

While the measure — which is still in negotiations —  will likely pass out of committee, HFC Chairman Mark Meadows said he’s “100 percent” confident that there aren’t enough “yes” votes for it to pass out of the lower chamber in its current form.

Meadows added that welfare reform — a top priority for conservatives — is expected to be in the bill.

Chairman [Mike] Conaway today said he’s for work requirements on SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], and believes we should be looking at that,” Meadows told reporters Friday, adding that Conway said changes to SNAP could potentially be taken up in a separate piece of legislation.

While the changes may help sway conservatives to get on board, cuts to certain programs to make up for the raise in defense spending could prove to be problematic, due to the loss of support from moderates.

“If you throw in food stamps and other mandatory programs, then you set yourself up for the argument that you’re cutting taxes for businesses and wealthy people while you’re removing eligibility for people on food stamps,” Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, the chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, told ABC News.

Conaway, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he’s hopeful that the need for Republicans to do tax reform will push enough members to back the bill.

A GOP aide close to the process confirmed that the committee plans to send out an official notice Monday with details on the markup.

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