WASHINGTON — A key House Republican greeted the White House's fiscal 2016 budget proposal with a rhetorical shovel, saying its tax increases means it immediately is headed for a political grave.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., was among the first lawmakers to respond to President Barack Obama's penultimate federal spending request, which includes $585 billion for the Pentagon and proposes getting rid of sequestration.
Many congressional Republicans want to end the sequestration budget cuts, but only for the military. Some Democrats are willing to support that, but only if domestic sequester cuts also are eliminated. The two sides disagree on how to do that, just as they have for four years. Complete coverage of the fiscal 2016 budget requestIn a statement, Rogers accused Obama of "asking for billions in additional spending without any realistic way of paying for it."
"The White House knows that its proposed tax increases and other budget gimmicks will never be enacted into law, and it is playing an irresponsible shell game with the federal budget," Rogers said.
Rogers, a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said "we need a real budget, one that allows responsible investments in critical federal programs — including our national defense — without breaking the bank and pushing our country further into deficits and debt."
Rogers joins other GOP committee leaders, such as House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Tom Price of Georgia and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, in highlighting the deficit and debt as priorities.
House GOP leaders likely would need some Democratic votes to pass a plan like Obama's, as would their Senate counterparts, where a handful of Democrats would need to join Republicans to end debate on a sequester-squashing package. For the latest national security news from Capitol Hill, go to CongressWatchBut those Democrats have signaled they would demand new revenues and some increases for select domestic programs. Both are non-starters for Republicans.
"We need a proposal that stops ignoring skyrocketing mandatory spending — or worse, adding to such spending," Rogers said. "It is imperative that Congress use its constitutionally mandated 'power of the purse' to reject this irresponsible budget plan."
Obama's sequester-killing blueprint also was immediately rejected by Senate Republican leaders.
"The president's budget calls for over $2 trillion in new taxes, adds more than $8 trillion to our out-of-control national debt, and never balances," said the Senate's No. 2 Republican leader, John Cornyn of Texas. "After six straight years of trying to have it all and losing control of both the House and Senate in the process, it's time for the president to try something new: Listening to the American people."