Despite promises and pleas for “regular order” in the annual budget process by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Republicans’ most conservative wing, the House Freedom Caucus, is complaining that the spending caps agreed to in late fall 2015 are too generous and need to be trimmed. They are calling for an FY17 budget resolution that sets maximum spending at a lower level than that set in the “Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015” (see Memo, 11/09/2015). Under the BBA, the topline spending limits for nondefense discretionary spending for FY17 are equal to the caps for FY16.
The budget resolution itself is not must-pass legislation, but the BBA’s spending limits do need to be passed in the House in a budget resolution or other vehicle to provide enforceable spending limits for appropriations legislation. Any hiccups in the process could delay the already fragile appropriations cycle.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) has indicated that his committee will proceed with developing its 12 appropriations bills based on the BBA caps if there is no House budget resolution.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) has said he expects his committee to pass a budget resolution that respects the BBA caps. It remains to be seen if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will allow an FY17 budget resolution to come to the full Senate for a vote.