Budget Chairman Talks Challenges Of Crafting 2018 Blueprint

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The House Budget Committee released its 2018 budget proposal Tuesday after weeks of negotiations spearheaded by Chairman Diane Black.

Black managed to rally chairmen of the other House committees to agree to steep cuts, resulting in topline numbers of $621.5 billion for base defense and $511 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, including $203 billion in mandatory savings and reforms. While the reduction in spending goes beyond what has been seen in recent years, conservatives in the House have expressed reluctance to get behind the numbers. Members of the powerful House Freedom Caucus are pushing for further spending reductions and more specifics on tax reform before they agree to support the measure. 

Black said she has been open to discussions with the different factions of the conference in an effort to make sure all voices were heard.

“I feel like we’ve got a good product, and we’ll just need to keep on working and helping people understand that since the 1990s there has not been this kind of mandatory deficit reduction,” she told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “I’m very proud of that. It’s the beginning; it’s not the end.”

According to Black lawmakers need to change the culture in Washington and look for places where they can feasibly cut spending.

“It is a culture of doing this on a regular basis where you’re continuing to look at your mandatory spending and saying, ‘Are there programs that can be reformed so we can save some money? Are there programs that aren’t, maybe, even needed anymore, where they need to be addressed in some way?'” she continued. “That’s the culture that we need to have around here.”

Black noted Republicans have a unique opportunity to pass a balanced budget and reform the tax code now that there is a Republican in the White House, adding they shouldn’t waste the chance to make good on their campaign promises.

“Look we’ve been here for six years under a previous administration where we didn’t have this opportunity. We’ve talked about it with my class, coming in 2010, for six years. It’s time for us to take action.”

The House Budget Committee is slated to move the bill — which includes reconciliation instructions for tax reform — out of committee Wednesday.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told reporters Monday he’s confident the bill won’t pass a floor vote in its current form.

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Juliegrace Brufke