WASHINGTON – The clock is ticking for House Republicans to present a rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s budget proposal with one of their own.
With a scheduled two-week recess next month, Congress has only seven days in session to introduce their budget before the looming April 15 deadline.
House Republican leaders did not respond to multiple questions from USA TODAY about when the GOP budget would be ready.
Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas, chair of the House Budget Committee, told CNN earlier this month Republicans were in “no rush” to release their own budget and it probably wouldn’t be ready until “the second week in May.” A spokesperson for Arrington later told CNN Arrington misspoke and no decisions had been made about timing.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise previously told reporters in February that Republicans were working to release a budget in mid-April.
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What are the GOP budget cuts?
One Republican budget framework would reduce government spending by billions, a move Democrats say could put Americans at risk by cutting funding from key social services programs.
An initial proposal from the House Budget Committee includes cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, Biden’s student debt cancellation and funding for electric vehicles for the U.S. post office.
It also includes reinstating work requirements to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
A proposal from the House Freedom Caucus includes $131 billion in cuts for fiscal year 2024. It would save $3 trillion in the long term by cutting federal bureaucracy, according to a statement from the caucus.
What could cuts mean for Americans?
The Biden administration called the House Freedom Caucus proposal “a five-alarm fire for families” and said it would endanger public safety, raise costs for families, ship manufacturing jobs overseas and undermine American workers.
According to the administration, the proposal would increase costs for health care, energy and college; eliminate programs for preschool and childcare; and strip Medicaid coverage and food assistance from Americans.
“I want to make it clear I’m ready to meet with the speaker anytime, tomorrow, if he has his budget,” Biden said when announcing his proposal. “Lay it down. Tell me what you want to do. I’ll show you what I want to do, see what we can agree on and we don’t agree on. Let’s see what we vote on.”
Trump overshadows House GOP retreat
House Republicans met this week in Orlando for a retreat that was was expected to focus on the party’s legislative strategy, but that was quickly upended by former President Donald Trump predicting he would be indicted for his alleged role in making a hush-money payment to an adult film actress just before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s announcement put party leadership on the spot to answer questions about the former president’s possible charges.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tried to strike a balance between party loyalty and trying to quell any potential uprising from Trump’s call for protests to “take back our nation.”
McCarthy defended Trump, dismissing the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation and calling it politically motivated.
“Lawyer after lawyer will tell you this is the weakest case out there, trying to make a misdemeanor a felony,” he said.
He also said people should not protest if there’s an indictment.
GOP to press cabinet secretaries on Biden budget
Meanwhile, nine Cabinet secretaries will face questioning from committees on Capitol Hill this week about Biden’s budget proposal. Despite House Republicans grilling the Biden administration to give answers on the budget, the GOP members of Congress have yet to present details of their own proposal.
“We have to come up with our policy response but first understand their policy initiatives they put forward to Capitol Hill,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who chairs the Financial Services committee, told CNN when asked last week about a timeline for a budget.
The following cabinet secretaries will testify:
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan
- Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young
- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
- Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra
- Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
- U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai
Debt ceiling fight tied to budget
House Republicans want Democrats to agree to spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
Without an agreement, the budget fight could keep the debt ceiling from being raised and trigger an economic collapse.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been taking extraordinary measures to pay the government’s bills since the United States reached its debt ceiling in January.
Without raising the debt ceiling, the government could default on its obligations this summer, according to Yellen and the Congressional Budget Office.