House Budget Committee approved the week of March 14 a fiscal year 2017 budget resolution by a 20-16 vote. Republicans on the Budget Committee say their $3.9 trillion plan would reduce deficits by $7 trillion over 10 years, without increasing taxes, by cutting $6.5 trillion in government spending. The budget maintains the $1.07 trillion cap for discretionary spending in fiscal year 2017 that was set in last year’s bipartisan budget agreement – a level opposed by members of the House Freedom Caucus who want greater reductions in discretionary spending. Interestingly the Freedom Caucus opposition may lead to a continuing resolution that will result in a defense spending cut of more than $2 billion.
The budget also sets several policy priorities, including language that calls for devolving federal transportation programs to state and local governments and aligning Highway Trust Fund spending to revenue coming into the fund. In addition, the budget eliminates subsidies for Amtrak and the TIGER grant program. Most of these positions are consistent with previous House Republican budgets; however, they are unlikely to ever see the light of day. In fact, the previous Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) – who is now Speaker of the House – fully-supported and was integral in getting the FAST Act signed into law, but included similar policies in his budgets as chairman. AGC and our coalition partners have been successful fighting off these types of cuts for years.
The budget may be on the House floor for a vote next week if Republican leaders can round up the votes necessary to pass it. This may prove difficult considering the universal opposition from Democrats and the problems with the conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus.