Price, a close ally of former Chairman Paul Ryan, borrowed many ideas from his predecessor. But he also moved to bolster funding for the Pentagon. Whether his solution will be enough for defense hawks without causing an uproar among fiscally minded conservatives is another question.
The House Republican budget authored by Price leaves in place the sequestration cuts set to hit defense and nondefense spending in fiscal 2016, which begins in September, but it adds additional money in Overseas Contingency Operations accounts—technically considered emergency funding—to bring total defense spending to $613 billion, which is more than President Obama requested for the year.
But the OCO funding plan may not be enough for defense hawks. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, one of several Republicans who has said he would oppose a budget if it fails to increase funding for defense over the sequestration caps, dismissed Price's OCO option—then just a theoretical possibility—on Monday evening. "I don't like it because OCO is a gimmick," McCain told reporters.
Fiscal conservatives aren't fond of the OCO plan either, raising the question of whether this is a solution that satisfies no one. "That is preposterous," Taxpayers for Common Sense CEO Steve Ellis said of the OCO funding plan. "That's more than we had in OCO a few years ago and is just a blatant attempt to end-run the budget caps."
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Over the next nine years, the House Republican budget would maintain the current sequestration caps overall, but reduce them for defense while increasing the spending limits for nondefense spending. Overall, the plan would increase spending by $387 billion over the next 10 years.
The budget does borrow an idea from McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham: creating a reserve account through which Congress can funnel additional funds to bolster the nation's defenses. The "Defense Readiness and Modernization Fund" would, however, be useless in the context of a budget resolution. To spend beyond the caps set under the Budget Control Act, Congress will have to pass a separate law, and get the president's signature. Price's gambit would allow congressional appropriators to spend over those caps once such a law is enacted.
The budget calls for the Affordable Care Act to be repealed via reconciliation, the complex procedural move that could allow Republicans in the House and Senate to make large-scale changes to federal law with simple majority votes this year. The budget also includes non-specific language asking each committee to do what it wants to reduce the deficit by anywhere from $15 million to $1 billion apiece over 10 years by July 15.
Although members have discussed using reconciliation to overturn the Affordable Care Act and/or defund President Obama's executive action on immigration, Republican leaders have been all but silent about how and when they will use it.