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House Republicans Present a Budget, Chide Dems for Failure to Do Same

RSC budget includes investments in military's cyber and space capabilities

U.S. Capitol
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• May 1, 2019 2:50 pm

Weeks after Democratic leadership decided to shelve their budget resolution for fiscal year 2020, a group of House Republicans has released a detailed budget it hopes will serve as a "playbook" for how to govern should they regain the majority.

The Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Johnson (R., La.), called it an abdication of responsibility by Democrats to fail to present a budget, but said it was "ready and willing to fill that vacuum of leadership" with its own budget.

"It's fairly obvious they have some internal squabbles in their conference and they don't want to bring a budget to the floor because it will expose those riffs," Johnson told reporters in advance of the budget's release. "We will have the only budget in Congress, and we're happy to present it."

The budget proposes to reduce spending by $12.6 trillion over 10 years and balance the federal budget by 2025. It contains policy proposals to reform entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, continue to cut regulations, and make Republican-passed tax cuts permanent.

It also proposes $745 billion in defense spending in 2020 and a total of $7.73 trillion in defense spending over the next decade, with a focus on modernizing and expanding the military's "nuclear, cyber, and outer space capacities."

"Regardless of the advances and investments made in America’s conventional forces, a failure in U.S. capabilities with regards to nuclear weapons, cyberspace and outer space can render our conventional military incapacitated and leave our homeland vulnerable to attack," the budget states, pointing specifically to nuclear advancements made by Russia, China, and North Korea.

Johnson said identifying new categories of essential spending, such as advancements of our outer space capabilities, is a "reality of life."

"Just a few years ago nobody thought about outer space capabilities, it's a whole new category of spending," Johnson said. "Some people say that's not necessary, but our adversaries in other nations are beginning to develop in those areas so we have to do it as well."

"This is the reality of life in the 21st century, there are new and expanding areas we need to provide for in national defense," he said.

The budget points specifically to active threats in space from our adversaries.

"A single nuclear device, detonated at high altitudes, can produce an EMP capable of destroying electronic devices and power grids over a large region of the U.S.," the budget says. "This threat, and the developments of both the Russians and Chinese to produce anti-satellite weapons, highlights the need for the U.S. military to centralize military space functions under a Space Force so the United States can continue to enhance its presence and capacities in outer space."

"This budget supports the goals of President Trump to ensure the U.S. is capable of intercepting long range missiles, most of which would traverse space if used, and can have adequate offensive and defensive abilities with regards to satellites," it says.

The budget also identifies attempted North Korean cyber attacks as reason for further investment in cyber operations.

"The failure of our military to adequately defend cyberspace could allow an adversary to incapacitate our entire electrical grid, and with it, the economic and physical systems that without which, would bring our nation to [the] edge of destruction and threaten the lives of almost everyone in the nation," it says. "This is not simply a future threat; North Korea has already engaged in this realm with repeated cyber-attacks on Americans."

Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), who chairs the RSC's budget and spending task force, said Democrats "failed a fundamental leadership test by not bringing a budget to the floor" and put the blame on support in the caucus for expensive policies such as Medicare for All.

"We heard a lot of talk last year from Democrats about addressing spending and the national debt," Banks said. "Now with the left wing of the party taking over control, pushing initiatives like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, it's hard to see where they come to a place where they can address the national debt."

The budget makes specific reference to the Green New Deal and its "several impossible and harmful goals it seeks to complete within 10 years."

It is unclear when, if ever, the budget proposal will be brought to the floor for a vote. Minority budget proposals are typically introduced as amendments to the budget brought to the floor by the majority.

Johnson says he is still hopeful Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) will ultimately get her caucus behind a budget proposal, but in the meantime says he's happy with his position in the debate.

"When you have the only proposal on the table, you automatically have some stake in the debate," Johnson said.