House Republicans are forging ahead with the release of their contentious fiscal blueprint next week, despite an obstacle-filled path to a floor vote before August break.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the surprise announcement on the floor Friday that the House Budget Committee is expected to unveil and vote on its budget resolution next week, after several embarrassing false starts.
An official notice of the markup will come Monday, a committee spokesman confirmed.
The budget resolution, largely a symbolic statement of party principles, is crucial this year because it can unlock a GOP-only tax reform bill. But its fate has looked bleak even as recently as earlier Friday, as Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) struggled with the same wall of resistance from conservatives and centrists.
Just two hours before McCarthy spoke, Black told reporters there was only a “possibility” of a markup and that she was still working to sway lawmakers.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) also gave a grim prognosis Friday morning. “I don’t get the impression that the budget is moving forward,” he told reporters.
The decision to move ahead came at a late-morning meeting with Budget Committee members, according to a GOP aide familiar with the talks. Approving a budget out of committee and then passing it on the floor typically takes two weeks — the precise amount of time left before August recess begins.
Black has privately told members that she will give up if the budget doesn’t pass by then, lawmakers and aides said this week.
The soon-to-be-released budget resolution is the result of nearly six months of backroom talks between the budget panel and the divided GOP conference.
The final product would not only set up a massive tax overhaul, but would also force GOP lawmakers to cut at least $200 billion from mandatory programs in the next year.
The ambitious plan to cut mandatory programs helped earn support from House conservatives but flared tensions with GOP centrists. Even with that promise of savings, the House Freedom Caucus has refused to declare support as its leaders seek other concessions on the anticipated tax bill.
Meanwhile, the Budget Committee’s plans to cut $200 billion from politically sensitive programs, like food stamps and farm subsidies, has made GOP leaders anxious.
In a last-ditch attempt to get the GOP budget unstuck, Black recently enlisted Vice President Mike Pence and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to help whip support for the bill.
If it fails, Republicans will attempt a “shell” budget to unlock tax reform, a process that GOP budget writers have described as an emergency “break-the-glass” approach they hope to avoid.
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.