FILE - In this March 10, 2017 file photo, House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Republicans on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, unveiled a budget that makes deep cuts in food stamps and other social safety net programs while boosting military spending by billions, a blueprint that pleases neither conservatives nor moderates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

GOP panel presses ahead on budget plan

July 19, 2017 - 4:47 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are pressing ahead with a budget plan designed to help the party to deliver on a GOP-only effort to overhaul the tax code.

The plan before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday also features promises to cut more than $5 trillion from the budget over the coming decade, though Republicans only appear serious about actually enacting a relatively modest $203 billion deficit cut over the same period

The importance of the effort has been magnified by the cratering in the Senate of the Trump-backed effort to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, leaving a rewrite of the tax code as the best chance for Trump to score a major legislative win this year.

The budget plan unveiled Tuesday is crucial because its passage would pave the way to pass a tax overhaul this fall without the fear of a filibuster by Senate Democrats.

But it also proposes trillions of dollars in cuts to the social safety net and other domestic programs and puts congressional Republicans at odds with Trump over cutting Medicare. It also would sharply boost military spending.

"In past years, the budget has only been a vision. But now, with the Republican Congress and a Republican White House, this budget is a plan for action," said Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, R-Tenn. "Now is our moment to achieve real results."

Unclear, however, is whether GOP leaders can get the budget measure through the House. Conservatives want a larger package of spending cuts to accompany this fall's tax overhaul bill, while moderates are concerned cuts to programs such as food stamps could go too far.

"I just think that if you're dealing with too many mandatory cuts while you're dealing with tax reform you make tax reform that much harder to enact," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Black announced a committee vote for Wednesday, but was less confident of a vote by the entire House next week; a delay seems likely because of the ongoing quarrel between the GOP's factions.

Top Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky told reporters the GOP "utilizes a lot of gimmicks and vagueness to reach some semblance of theoretical balance and also hides a lot of the draconian cuts" that would be inflicted.

The budget resolution is nonbinding. It would allow Republicans controlling Congress to pass follow-up legislation through the Senate without the threat of a filibuster by Democrats. GOP leaders and the White House plan to use that measure to rewrite the tax code.

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