The Corner

BREAKING: House Republicans in Revolt over Spending

We’re hearing that the Republican Study Committee and GOP freshmen were almost in open revolt at the Republican conference this morning over the initial round of cuts set out by Paul Ryan. The Ryan ceiling falls shorts of the headline number of $100 billion set out in the Pledge, and is therefore considered vastly insufficient. Says a source familiar with the meeting, “It sent a clear unequivocal message to leadership — ‘Houston, you’ve got a problem.’” The leadership assured conservatives at a RSC lunch later in the day that the message had been received. Says a GOP leadership aide, “The bill that passes the House will cut substantially more.”

Some members were upset that they didn’t get a chance to talk at the conference meeting. At times, the meeting was quite heated. The source familiar with the meeting says, “They’re putting a lot of emotion out on the table early,” and adds that freshman said the cuts were peanuts and their constituents don’t think even $100 billion is enough.

RSC members are still discussing whether they’d prefer picking and choosing targets within the budget or going with a big across-the-board cut of non-security domestic discretionary spending to get to $100 billion. The Ryan number would have already been unheard of — doubling down on it would represent an epochal cut.

UPDATE: A GOP aide close to House conservatives tells NRO: “If the bill that comes to the floor next week does not get to the $100 billion mark ($378 billion in total non-security spending for the year), our plan has always been to offer an amendment to close the gap. So if they come in at $420 billion for non-security, we’d go for another $42 billion in cuts to get down to the $378 billion total. Leadership has said that their plan is just the ‘first bite at the apple.’ We understand that, but a lot of conservatives just think the first bite needs to be bigger.”

UPDATE II: Another House aide close to the situation confirms to NRO’s Bob Costa that there is “growing anxiety” among the freshmen and fiscal conservatives that the Ryan plan does not go “far enough” and that it could be seen as “breaking” the Pledge to America.

“It’s a poor sign that Congress can get serious about fiscal discipline over the next two years,” the aide says. “Even some of the more pragmatic members don’t see the logic of the Ryan plan; that even if you don’t want to see the cuts take effect, for negotiating and political purposes, you want to go into the negotiations with the Senate with the biggest possible number.” In other words, “even if the bill that Obama signs doesn’t equal a $100 billion cut, having the House pass a cut of that size will be seen as a ‘win.’ And by that logic, why not just start with the $100 billion figure?”

“At the very least, Boehner and Cantor underestimated the amount of opposition that the Ryan plan would have within the conference,” the aide concludes. “Things are in flux. A bit messy. But if you’re Jim Jordan, you’re feeling pretty good right now.”

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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