A new skirmish in the ongoing battle between House Republicans and the White House Office of Management and Budget has the congressional GOP going after OMB’s own budget, putting the party of smaller government in the odd position of cutting the budget of the executive branch’s leading budget-cutters.
The move is part of an escalating fight over funding the government that could lead to a shutdown weeks before the November election.
The House Appropriations Committee is advancing legislation that would gut key Obama administration priorities across the board, but the kicker is that they’re also seeking to slash OMB — the one agency that knows where all the fat is. It’s the one arm of the executive it makes sense to fully fund if the goal is to reduce government spending, and squeeze other cabinet level departments — particularly if you believe the country will be run by the GOP next year.
House Republicans are proposing to cut OMB funding by almost $9 million — nearly 10 percent below its fiscal year 2012 budget.
That would, according to the administration, require OMB to eliminate 90 full-time equivalent jobs — which would amount to a 17 percent staffing reduction. In other words, to save money, the House GOP would start by firing the beancounters.
“We believe that the President’s proposed funding level for OMB reflects what we need to have an OMB capable of doing its job of overseeing federal spending, managing the federal government, and developing the budget,” OMB spokesman Ken Baer told TPM.
In a sign of how heated the feud has become, the GOP is also seeking to limit OMB’s ability to print and distribute the President’s annual budget. Instead, according to the funding proposal, “the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall: (1) consult with each standing committee in the House of Representatives and the Senate with respect to the number of printed and electronic copies (including the appendix, historical tables, and analytical perspectives) of the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget request that each such committee requires; and (2) provide, using the funds made available under this heading, each such committee with the requisite number of copies by no later than the date that the President submits such budget to Congress.”
In other words, we’ll tell you how many budgets we need, and you can pay for printing them out of your already diminished funds.
By comparison, the GOP proposes increasing funding to other government accounting agencies like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office.
Those agencies are more independent and have thus stood on the sidelines of partisan budget fights between the White House (particularly OMB officials) and the congressional GOP. In recent weeks, for instance,the OMB has tried aggressively to bind Republicans to the deal they struck with the White House last August to raise the debt limit and set government funding levels for the coming fiscal year.
A House Appropriations Committee spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the spat with OMB at this time, but it’s a fair bet that the 2011 feuds over funding the government, deficit reduction, and raising the debt ceiling are part of what’s driving it.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.