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From the CQ Newsroom: House GOP Leaders Vow to Try Again on Budget Resolution

APRIL 7, 20006 -- A day after party infighting forced House Republican leaders to send members home for recess without passing a budget, GOP leaders pledged they would resume negotiations when they return from the two-week Easter break.

"I don't think we should be throwing in the towel," House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, said at a Friday morning news conference.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he believes the GOP can eventually pass a budget resolution (H Con Res 376) despite the intense disagreement among appropriators, conservatives, and moderates that sank the effort this week.

Problems arose, Blunt said, because the basic budget resolution became the vehicle for proposed new procedural hurdles to emergency spending, which is funding that falls outside the annual caps on discretionary spending. Other procedural proposals, including curbs on member earmarks, also became entangled in the negotiations.

"We really haven't had the budget discussion yet," Blunt said. "Earmark reform and emergency funds and things of that nature are very much process-oriented. In light of that, I do think we have a real opportunity to get back and get this budget done, but we really have to move past these process-oriented issues."

Blunt's remarks appeared to signal that GOP leaders might try to break off the "process-oriented" emergency spending provision, which provoked a full-scale revolt by House Republican appropriators, led by Chairman Jerry Lewis of California.

That provision would require the Budget Committee to sign off on any proposed emergency spending for natural disasters or other domestic purposes that exceeds $4.3 billion. Lewis urged all 36 of his fellow Appropriations Republicans to vote against the budget and rule for its consideration unless that proposal is stripped.

Conservative activists in the Republican Study Committee pressed for the curbs on emergency spending, along with several other proposals that are not a part of the budget resolution. Those would restrict member earmarks and create a "sunset commission" to recommend programs for termination.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, earlier expressed doubt that the House would keep attempting to pass a budget beyond this week.

"If we don't do it this week, why do it?" Boehner said on April 4.

Blunt said he did not necessarily agree. "I think that would have been the conventional wisdom this week, a couple of weeks ago," Blunt said. "I'm not sure where I would have been on that."

Boehner did not participate in the Friday press conference, which was conducted by telephone with the intent of promoting new Department of Labor statistics showing job growth in March.

But Boehner said Thursday night after the budget talks collapsed that he would continue the negotiations after the recess.

"We'll keep working on the budget process reforms—that's the biggest issue standing in the way," he said.

Members of the Republican Study Committee claimed Thursday night to have struck a deal with leaders regarding new earmark rules. But appropriators have refused to agree to those terms, which would require that earmarks be identified by sponsor and be subject to challenges on the floor, including in conference reports.

Ron Bonjean, spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Friday morning that a budget agreement was still a "moving target."

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