House Republicans are also gearing up to waste some time on messaging votes—passing legislation they know won’t make it through the Senate but that let them cover their butts on issues near and dear to their base. Exhibit A: The Balanced Budget Amendment that was rolled out, and immediately fizzled, this week. It might strike some observers as odd that, having passed a tax cut-spending combo that will balloon the deficit, Republicans would turn around and champion a plan to make Congress balance the books. Then again, what else can members who’ve been fiercely peddling fiscal discipline do now that their party has turned spendthrift? Since constitutional amendments require two-thirds support to clear the House, the BBA had no chance of going anywhere. Republicans in both chambers were publicly mocking it, including Representative Justin Amash, who cheekily tweeted that it “shouldn’t be called a BBA; it should be called a CYA.” That said, lawmakers desperate to signal to the folks back home that they really do care about deficits can now point and say, “See! I voted for that!”
Speaking of fiscal flip-floppery, there is also talk of Republicans using a “rescission” bill to claw back chunks of the omnibus that they don’t much fancy (i.e., the parts Democrats negotiated). House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, now raring to assume Ryan’s mantle, and President Trump have been noodling over how best to use an obscure provision that allows Congress to selectively rescind recently approved funding. Such a reversal would require only simple majorities in both chambers, meaning Democrats could get steamrolled. But as with all budget matters, when lawmakers start getting specific about where to cut, they risk stepping on toes in both parties. There would be scads of awkward questions about why members were changing course on a package they just pushed through. And Democrats would be unlikely to forgive such a maneuver by September, when the next funding agreement needs to happen. Some Senate Republicans have already voiced distaste for such a move, including Lindsey Graham, who declared Monday that rescissions are “going nowhere.”
There’s also the possibility of a vote aimed at amending the recent tax agreement to lock in the reductions in individual rates. (As passed, the deal lowered corporate rates permanently but set individual cuts to expire in 2025.) This is tricky terrain. Such a change would further inflate the cost of the package—again spotlighting the GOP’s new spendthriftiness—so McConnell may prefer to avoid any debate in the Senate. (The leader’s office declined to chat.) Alternatively, McConnell could decide it’s worth pushing Democrats, especially those on the ballot this year, to make an uncomfortable choice: support Republicans in their tax slashing (making it harder for the blue team to accuse the red team of fiscal irresponsibility) or get slammed for opposing tax relief for hard-working Americans.
Now layer onto all this all the unknown unknowns that tend to pop up in any given week of the Trump Era. Et voila! Lawmakers should have plenty to keep them occupied in between campaign events. As for more ambitious legislating: There’s always the lame-duck session.
Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/congress-agenda/558014/544