Black prepares to step down as budget chair — but won’t say when

Having finally shepherded the fiscal 2018 budget resolution through the House, U.S. Rep. Diane Black is now preparing to give up her gavel as chair of the House Budget Committee after 10 months in the position to focus on her run for governor, reports Roll Call.

Black still won’t put a timeline on her departure date — including whether she will stick it out through conference negotiations with the Senate.

Some fruits of her labor, however, may end up on the cutting room floor, as key elements of the House budget resolution — including $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts over 10 years and higher defense spending than current law allows — will likely be scrubbed from the final version.

Still, one way or another, Black’s impact on this year’s budget process is undeniable. After all, if not for her efforts to forge a compromise package, the budget process could have stalled out altogether.

Just getting the House version to the floor followed months of work by Black and her staff, including closed-door meetings with fellow lawmakers, negotiations with GOP leadership, a lengthy markup and a two-month delay between the committee vote and floor passage.

“This was a hard lift,” Black said recently. “Some committee chairmen were right on board with us and they were ready to go. They not only took some of our ideas, but they came up with their own ideas. Other committees were more resistant and we had some work to do.”

Black today remains the only Republican woman on the Budget panel, not to mention its first chairwoman. She said she doesn’t “get into the gender thing,” but added that she does believe it’s important to have women in leadership positions.

…The Senate also released its budget resolution, which has drastically different discretionary spending levels and reconciliation instructions. Its blueprint allows the tax-writing committees to add $1.5 trillion in deficits during the next decade. There are no mandatory spending cuts, save a token $1 billion instruction to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources panels. And because of Senate rules, the resolution must adhere to the fiscal 2018 spending caps of $549 billion for defense and $516 billion for nondefense discretionary spending.

…“I’m wedded to this budget and I’m going to work with it along the way until I can see that it has a path to be seen and considered in its full strength,” she said.

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