Despite widespread skepticism that the House Budget Committee would be able to produce a Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution, the committee released on July 18 a proposal titled Building a Better America with overall discretionary spending set at $1.132 trillion, with $621.5 billion in defense discretionary spending and $511 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. The budget resolution calls for spending reductions and savings of $203 billion, and also sets the stage for comprehensive tax reform using budget reconciliation. The Budget Committee approved the plan on July 19 after an arduous 12 ½–hour markup. The budget resolution was approved 22-14 with all Republicans on the committee voting in favor.
Reconciliation is a “fast track procedure” used to make changes to mandatory spending and revenue. Under reconciliation, the budget can avoid a filibuster in the Senate by lowering the threshold for approval from 60 votes to a simple majority of 51.
By including reconciliation instructions for “deficit-neutral, fundamental tax reform” the budget is intended to pave the way for “broad-based tax reform that will make our tax code more competitive internationally and expand opportunities for job creation and business formation in the United States.”
The budget proposal calls for the 11 House authorizing committees to achieve a minimum of $203 billion mandatory savings and reforms over the 10-year budget window, the largest deficit reduction in more than 20 years, with the expectation of higher savings. Calling the savings target “a floor, not a ceiling,” the budget calls for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to produce savings of $20 billion.
Similar to the divide over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats and some Republicans will object to the significant spending reductions called for in the budget resolution, the conservative wing of House Republicans is already saying that it doesn’t go far enough. In short, approval of the budget resolution by the full House is far from certain. Democrats are expected to offer their own alternative budget, as is the conservative Freedom Caucus.