Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

US Senate Democrats Plan Nationwide Protests Against Republican Healthcare Plan

US Senate Democrats Plan Nationwide Protests Against Republican Healthcare Plan

"No budget, no tax reform", said Representative Mark Walker, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 150 conservative lawmakers.

Legislative budget writers are scheduled to resume their work as negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders over a spending plan for the fast-approaching fiscal year have stalled.

The House budget committee is putting its budget markup on hold as conservatives and moderates in the Republican conference are divided over how the budget would reduce mandatory spending.

Conservatives are demanding greater cuts to benefit programs such as food stamps, but are meeting resistance from other Republicans, including Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who are balking at politically hard cuts to the program and the possibility of cuts to farm programs.

The House Budget Committee is unlikely to unveil a fiscal 2018 budget resolution until after the Independence Day recess as Chairwoman Diane Black continues to struggle to marry competing interests on using the reconciliation process to cut mandatory spending. And the divisions in the House mirror the challenge Senate leaders are wrestling with on the party's other big agenda item, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The $200 billion cut to mandatory spending was an attempt to thread the needle between conservatives who wanted more deficit reduction for mandatory spending and moderates concerned about cutting too deeply into the safety net, but now it appears neither side is happy.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a Republican representative from SC, said that he had found cuts on the order of $295 billion, but that negotiations were ongoing. That number was thrown out as an offer.

"It's hard to imagine going much farther than that", he said. "It was never agreed to", said Rep. Mark Meadow, R-N.C., the chairman of the strongly conservative House Freedom Caucus.

"It has to be linked to tax reform, because we believe tax reform is going to happen", Jordan said in an interview.

"We're continuing to negotiate, trying to negotiate in good faith and not wanting to draw a line in the sand without seeing real numbers in terms of the mandatory spending", the North Carolina Republican said.

Despite the snag on the budget deal, House appropriators are moving forward with their bills this week.

While the Budget Committee members have no objection to a higher amount of mandatory savings cuts, their problem is getting the authorizing committee chairman to pony up the needed savings to meet the reconciliation target.

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