White House Re-Ignites ‘Grand Bargain’ Negotiations…By Slamming a GOP Bill

Forget fancy dinners and holes-in-one with the president. The White House re-opened efforts to strike a sweeping fiscal deal with congressional Republicans in an odd way: Via a statement.

For the defense sector, a so-called “grand bargain” matters because a deal that includes about $1 trillion more in deficit reduction measures is required to turn off the remaining nine years and the remaining $450 billion (give or take a few billion) of sequestration’s national defense cuts.

After posh dinner meetings and exclusive rounds of golf during which a big fiscal deal was discussed, the talks just…stopped.

That changed on Monday when the White House picked its spot to re-ignite the federal-spending issue.

Unless a Department of Homeland Security spending bill “passes the Congress in the context of an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2217 and any other legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy on the House’s version of that measure.

House Republican aides say their authorization and appropriations committees are required to budget in accordance with their chamber’s annual budget resolutions. The 2014 versions are vastly different from the federal budget plan Obama offered in April, which is one big grand bargain proposal.

The White House is making clear House Republicans should bend toward the president’s plan. Fat chance, they reply.

“They refuse to come to the table to address the problem on the entitlements, which is eating up the budget,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kent. said Monday, according to Roll Call. “Unless they come to the table to address that, they really don’t have any sway with me.”

At this point, it’s worth wondering just how much progress has been made so far. It’s also worth wondering whether any Obama-backed “grand bargain” legislation could pass the GOP-controlled House. And it’s worth wondering whether House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has had trouble with his increasingly conservative caucus, would allow such a bill to pass with mostly Democratic support.

Those answers are months away. But talk about a  sequester-voiding “grand bargain” started anew Monday, and both sides got no further than setting down ideological red lines. Again.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett