House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that it’s possible that Congress will take up more stopgap government funding measures instead of a longer-term one when a resolution keeping the government running expires later this month.
Speaking Thursday morning at a breakfast sponsored by National Journal, Ryan said that he could “possibly” see Congress passing a series of short-term measures.
Ryan’s statement comes as the White House and leaders of both parties have come out against using a series of short-term funding bills to keep the government running.
President Obama, who on Wednesday <a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/02/AR2011030206932.html”>signed into law</a> the stopgap measure that will keep the government funded through March 18 and cut $4 billion from programs his administration has already targeted, said in a statement after Wednesday’s Senate vote that “we cannot keep doing business this way.”
Also on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged Congress to pass a longer-term measure instead of “short-term band-aids,” and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that Senate Democrats are “going to draw a line here; this is not the way to govern.”
The White House has called for congressional leaders to meet with Vice President Biden, Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew to negotiate a way forward on a measure that would keep the government funded through September. But the path remains unclear, as House Republicans and Senate Democrats are at odds over how much to cut from federal spending.
Also at issue are several dozen riders that passed the House two weeks ago and are included in the lower chamber’s plan to cut $61 billion through the end of September. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) <a href=”http://voices.washingtonpost.com/2chambers/2011/03/senate_passes_stopgap_governme.html”>said on Wednesday</a> that the riders, which include measures on such hot-button issues as defunding Planned Parenthood and the national health care law, would be dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
On Thursday, Ryan said that House Republicans understand that there’s a difference of opinion on the riders but did not offer any specifics on how lawmakers might address them.
“We realize that we control one-third of the decision making body here,” he said, adding that “what I hope to get out of this is as low a spending number as possible.”
Asked what kind of compromise he sees the House and Senate coming to on the longer-term spending measure, Ryan said that it remains unclear. “I really don’t know the answer to that question, where are we going to split the difference,” he said.
He also reiterated that House Republicans plan to tackle entitlement reform, including Medicare reform, when they propose their fiscal year 2012 budget in April, calling the fact that Obama’s proposed budget did not do so “disturbing.”
“Everybody thinks that we’re afraid of the politics of this,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to get beyond that. ... We have a moral obligation, a responsibility to stand up and do what’s right to solve this country’s problems.”