A panel of the House’s most conservative Republicans signaled broad support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget before it comes up for a vote Thursday — a positive omen for GOP leadership, which has a diminished majority of 232-200 and little room for error.
The panelists at the Capitol Hill event Wednesday hosted by the Heritage Foundation were arch-conservative Republican Reps. Tim Huelskamp (KS), Raúl Labrador (ID), Jim Jordan (OH), Jeff Duncan (SC), Mick Mulvaney (SC), David Schweikert (AZ), Thomas Massie (KY), Mark Meadows (NC), Trey Radel (FL) and Steve Scalise (LA).
Of the 10 lawmakers, just one of them — Massie — expressed opposition when a reporter asked how they intend to vote on Ryan’s plan.
Tellingly, Huelskamp — who voted no on Ryan’s budget last year, subsequently got thrown off the Budget Committee, and has this year waged public battles against his leadership — stepped up to say he will vote yes.
“I did vote no last year,” he said. “But we’re going from 26 to 10 years [when it comes to balancing revenues and spending]. But I think most importantly, what the Republicans agreed to in the Williamsburg Accord — this is the next step of that.” (By “Williamsburg Accord,” Huelskamp was referring to leadership’s promises earlier this year at the House GOP retreat in Williamsburg to reject all tax hikes and write a 10-year balanced budget.)
Ryan’s budget got no Democratic votes last year and isn’t expected to win any this year. The substance of the updated plan is broadly similar, but due to a tax increase and more optimistic projections of economic growth, the blueprint is expected to balance the federal budget sooner — and that’s proving to be a critical sweetener for Republicans.
“Last year the Ryan budget took a long time to get to balance,” Jordan said. “This is happening much faster, which is something we all supported and pushed our conference to go for. … It has some of those visions — tax reform, things we can do on entitlements.”
“So I’ll be supporting it,” he said. “And I think, frankly, most of the folks up here on the dais will be supporting it.”
An awkward moment followed when Massie quickly said he’s a No. “It increases the spending by 3.4 percent per year,” he said. “And I think we should be cutting foreign aid as well.”
“I meant to say with the exception of Massie everyone up here will be [voting yes],” Jordan said lightheartedly, as the Republican panelists and reporters in the room laughed.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.