Senate Republicans are rebelling against the Trump administration’s proposed fix to a fiscal pile-up this fall, rejecting a one-year stopgap funding bill as insufficient for the military.
In a letter to President Donald Trump’s budget negotiators led by close Trump ally Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, 15 Senate Republicans on Wednesday asked the White House to avoid imposing “draconian” conditions that would render the Pentagon “incapable of increasing readiness, recapitalizing our force, or rationalizing funding.”
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“While some members of the Administration have suggested a yearlong CR as a viable path forward, this must be avoided,” the senators wrote. “Simply put, our adversaries do not handcuff their militaries with funding gimmicks like continuing resolutions — nor should we.”
The letter was addressed to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The senators added that a continuing resolution would stall a military pay raise and make spending far more inefficient.
A senior administration official said that the letter from the senators ignores the House Democrats’ internal divisions “and lacks a plan to stop Democrats from dismantling the president’s deregulatory and border security agendas with poison-pill riders.”
“If these members have another plan for fiscal restraint, then we’re all ears,” the official said on Wednesday afternoon.
The war of words Wednesday underscores unrest in the GOP ranks about deadlocked budget negotiations, which Republicans have blamed on Democrats’ push for higher domestic spending. As of Wednesday, there were no new meetings planned between congressional leaders and the administration after June’s impasse. At the time, the White House proposed a stopgap funding bill aimed at avoiding a shutdown and stiff, automatic budget cuts.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell panned a continuing resolution, and many of his rank-and-file members feel the same way.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe signed on to the letter, as did Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Cornyn of Texas, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
The senators and other congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are seeking a new two-year budget deal to provide certainty through the presidential election.
Without action, the government would shut down on Sept. 30 and the sequester would ultimately shave $71 billion from defense spending and $55 billion from domestic spending. Meanwhile, Congress also must raise the debt ceiling this fall or face a default that could destabilize the global economy.