Paul Ryan, the budget wunderkind who was elected speaker only after a united House GOP dragged him into the job, is finding himself in the exact same position as former House Speaker John Boehner: unable to find consensus in his conference.
Just months after being elected as speaker with the promise he'd return the House to what is called "regular order," Ryan will miss an April 15 deadline to pass a budget even as he still seeks to find consensus around one.
"It's important for Paul," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on passing a budget. "It's important to anyone who is speaker, I think because it is what we are supposed to be doing. It is regular order. And with him being budget chairman and even apart from that, it lays out the roadmap for the House for the year."
The irony for Ryan is that the budget debacle unfolding on his watch is more about perception than an actual legislative crisis. Under a fiscal agreement struck between outgoing House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, there is already a 2017 funding bill in place, a parting gift from Boehner that was intended to save Ryan from the kind of high profile vote wrangling he is facing now as GOP schisms bubble up in an election year.
Ryan, however, had made a pledge to bring back "regular order" and restore the budget process to the committees, all an effort to encourage his conference to feel a stake in the process and unite his party.
Ryan's token of goodwill appears to be backfiring.
"Part of the problem is we're a victim of the success of the fact that we have appropriations numbers already in law. We already have an agreement in law," Ryan said Thursday during a press conference. "That has taken pressure off of the budget situation and that is one of the challenges we are dealing with."
The disagreement raging in the House is over how much Republicans should set out to spend with their top line number. House Budget Chairman Tom Price released a budget plan earlier this year that set discretionary spending at $1.07 trillion for 2017 but some conservatives in the House wanted to see $30 billion less in spending. Ryan has said he still wants to see a budget, but the intransigence of the far right could prove impossible to untangle without a looming deadline.
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