Republicans on the House Budget Committee on Tuesday rolled out the party’s 10-year budget plan as the conference races to strike a deal on spending little under two weeks out from a looming government shutdown deadline.
Republicans say the ambitious measure would balance the federal budget over the next decade, with proposals aimed at cutting the nation’s deficits by more than $16 trillion during the period.
Among the proposals the GOP-led committee has highlighted as part of the plan are changes to work requirements for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, limits on discretionary spending and rollbacks of parts of Democrats’ signature Inflation Reduction Act.
The proposed budget is a 10-year blueprint and wishlist of sorts. It is distinct from the spending bills being debated as the clock ticks toward a shutdown at the end of the month and will not become law.
But the measure can provide a look into where the party thinks the nation’s fiscal trajectory should be headed over the next decade.
“I hope that this will help grease the skids for us to get a unified Republican funding package on the discretionary spending,” House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) told reporters this week.
The committee’s planned markup on Wednesday coincides with growing debate in the GOP conference over spending, as leadership works to get the party’s various factions on the same page ahead of expected negotiations with the Democratic-led Senate on how to avoid a government shutdown.
In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) called the proposed budget plan a “step forward” and provides a measure that the party “convalesce around” and “maybe get to some consensus before it gets to Sept. 30.”
Burchett is among a list of Republicans who have come out against a legislative deal worked out between the House Freedom Caucus and the Main Street Caucus over the weekend that would stave off the threat of a shutdown later this month.
That bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), would punt the shutdown deadline from the end of the month through Oct. 31, along with provisions that would cut spending and enact changes to border policy as leadership works to lock down support from hardline conservatives.
GOP leaders previously set sights on a floor vote on the CR this week, but plans for a procedural vote on the bill were scrapped on Tuesday as internal divisions in the conference over how far to cut government spending for the coming fiscal year have garnered attention in recent weeks.
Democrats have already come out against the budget plan, with Rep. Brendan Boyle (Penn.), top Democrat on the Budget Committee, accusing his colleagues across the aisle of pushing for “cruel cuts to everything from health care to education.”
“Make no mistake: America is barreling towards a government shutdown because Republicans reneged on the bipartisan budget agreement in their thirst for cruel budget cuts – cuts which will raise the cost of living when it’s already too high,” he said in a statement.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also released a statement calling the legislation a “deal-breaking budget that attacks essential government programs, undermines economic growth and national safety, and raises costs for households nationwide.”
“Using the same old, tired, trickle-down playbook, they are seeking to balance the budget on the backs of regular folks, while delivering huge tax cuts for big businesses and billionaires,” he added. “Their massive tax giveaways are based on fantasy math — the arithmetic just doesn’t work.”
The Republican budget comes in stark contrast to the one the White House rolled out months ago that included boosts for non-defense spending and Democratic priorities, while pressing for tax increases on the wealthy aimed at tackling the nation’s deficits.
But Republicans have pushed back on the criticisms, often pointing to the growth of national debt, which recently climbed to more than $33 trillion, as cause for alarm.
The Congressional Budget Office also projected earlier this year that country’s deficit for fiscal year 2023 was on track to totalling $1.7 trillion.
The GOP plan includes some changes to Medicare, but Republicans have maintained those reforms would amount to “non-benefit” cuts.
“Like site neutrality, like hospital debt that we’re paying at 100 percent. That we don’t need to pay it 100 percent,” Arrington said at a press conference.”
The new budget plan also doesn’t include changes to Social Security – which, like Medicare, faces threats to solvency in the coming years – after a bruising partisan debate over potential reforms to extend the lifetime of the program earlier this year.
“We don’t cut Medicare benefits, and we don’t cut Social Security or veterans benefits,” Arrington said. “But let me be clear, in this 10 year window, both the Social Security and the Medicare trust funds will become insolvent.”
Arrington instead said Republicans are recommending a bipartisan commission to explore potential changes to the programs, which account for a chunk of federal spending.
Republicans say the budget plan would result in “$4.6 trillion in savings” on the discretionary side over the next decade, with proposals to set base discretionary budget authority for most of next year at fiscal year 2022 levels. The plan also calls for capping discretionary spending growth at 1 percent after 2024.
“You’ve got to grow faster than inflation plus population. This budget does that,” Arrington argued on Monday. “We return to pro-growth, pro-work, pro-energy policies that we know will reignite this economy.”