Top House Republicans have tussled with their rank-and-file over spending levels in their upcoming budget resolution. High-ranking figures want to stick to the discretionary spending limits required by the Budget Control Act. But their conservative members insist on cutting federal programs even further. And whispers around Capitol Hill suggest the GOP will set those caps at some $20 billion beneath the agreed-upon levels, which could bind the lower chamber to those figures and touch off another showdown over funding the government beyond the end of September.
The lower spending levels will only take effect if both chambers agree to adjust the existing caps. Echoing fellow Senate Dem leaders, Reid doing so is nothing more than a tea party fantasy, arguing that the BCA was the product of months of arduous negotiations that Dems will not reopen.
"There isn't a chance in the world it'll become law," Reid said of the upcoming GOP budget, if it indeed lowers spending caps. "No chance in the world. Budgets aren't one-house operations. They are binding to the other house. We have a law that binds both houses. Our economy cannot afford another one of these senseless demonstrations by the tea party. The American people are sick of these manufactured crises."
Sen. Patty Murray (WA), a Democratic leadership member and senior lawmaker on the Budget Committee, backed up Reid's warning that it's BCA levels or bust. "A deal's a deal," she told TPM, "and if Republicans renege on the one they made less than a year ago then I have absolutely no confidence that we can make any new bipartisan deals anytime soon."
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is expected to unveil the GOP's blueprint in a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute one week from today. A spokesperson for Ryan did not respond to a request for comment on Reid's remarks, or offer any hints on the budget figures.