Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Budget Conference Committee Keeps Hopes Moderated

By Drew Thies

Members of the bipartisan, bicameral budget conference committee, created in the wake of the government shutdown, are being quite candid about their expectations for a large, year-end deal, and hopes are not high. Statements released from both parties point to limited fixes rather than a “grand bargain.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee and the top-ranking House Republican in the conference, has been hinting at small compromises. “We need to find out where our principles overlap,” Ryan said at the conference’s opening meeting.

Democrats and Republicans are tasked with finding more than $90 billion in saving by Dec. 13 to avoid another round of automatic budget cuts imposed through sequestration, most of which will affect defense spending. 

Overlapping ground for the 29-member conference committee, however, may be hard to find. The partisan gridlock and intraparty divides which surfaced during the shutdown and debt ceiling debates still drive the conversation.

Democrats want half of the $90 billion target to come from ending tax breaks and increasing revenue, and are willing to trade limited ground on minor entitlement changes.

Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, the top ranking Senator and Democrat on the conference, said, “Republicans are also going to have to work with us to scour the bloated tax code — and close some wasteful tax loopholes and special-interest subsidies.”

Republicans, however, are completely opposed. Tom Price (R-GA) said last week, “Any tax revenue needs to be in the context of tax reform, and that goes through the Ways and Means Committee, not the budget conference committee.” Ryan added, “If this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere.”

Ryan also said he does not see Democrats agreeing to the entitlement changes Republicans want.

AHCA’s legislative staff continues to keep a finger on the pulse of both the budget conference as well as many other year-end projects important to our members. Preserving funding for quality care in negotiations like the budget conference and recently released SGR reform framework remains at the top of our agenda.

No comments:

Post a Comment