GOP Leaders Announce Spending Cut Agreement

Ron Sachs

Republican House leaders Thursday night claimed to have reached an agreement with their members on proposed spending cuts, which they plan to unveil Friday.

“What we heard here was a commitment to the $100 billion reduction number,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at a press availability after a Republican caucus meeting.

As described here, the spending cuts would trim about $100 billion off President Obama’s budget request, which he sent to Congress last year. Republicans settled on these levels after rank and file members threatened to rebel if earlier proposed cuts weren’t deepend. But even the updated cuts are significantly less than $100 billion, when compared to current spending levels.The question for Republicans now is whether they can build a majority around this proposal, which some still view as too meager. They plan to allow open debate on amendments, which could add yet-more cuts to the package. But if conservative members see their amendments scuttled, they could band together and oppose the entire spending package, putting GOP leaders in a real bind.

I asked Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), a member of GOP leadership if he worries about that outcome.

“I would say that I do not see any group of people that are gathering together to do anything other than to pass this bill,” he said.

Indeed, one such conservative, Steve King (R-IA), is rallying members to support a proposal to add drastic cuts to the health care law into the spending bill. He worries he may not be able to build a bloc large enough to force that issue.

“I think if there’s an agreement on $100 billion in that room, it’s taken some of the air out of the balloon,” he told me on his way into the meeting. I’ll have to see.”