‘Restless’ Black pushing for U.S. House budget vote with no assurance of passage

House Budget Chairman Diane Black  Tuesday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the budget to the floor this month, even though her hard-fought fiscal outline lacks the 218 votes needed for passage, reports Politico. Frustrated by her party’s divisions, she is daring die-hard conservatives to vote no, forcing them to take the fall for choking off the party’s chances at tax reform.

“Sometimes when you get this close, perhaps you just need to put it on the floor,” Black (R-Tenn.) told POLITICO in a 30 minute interview. “I have made the case to the leadership, that I think it’s time.”

“I am restless. I want to have it done,” she said.

…Black, who has led a one-woman whip operation on the budget this summer, said Ryan and other members of leadership must link the budget to the GOP’s dream of tax reform.

“I encourage him to do more to make sure that there is an understanding, that in order to do tax reform, you need to do a budget,” Black said. The budget includes instructions for a reconciliation bill that would pave the way for passage of tax reform with just 51 votes in the Senate.

…Black has spent months peddling her sweeping budget document, buttonholing dozens of members on the floor and logging hours on the phone to clear its first hurdle in July.

Republican leadership decided last week to formally take the temperature of the full GOP conference. That first official vote count came up short, with some undecided members.

Still, Black said she believes enough members would feel pressure to change their votes if they saw the bill on the floor.

… The path to a GOP budget has been chaotic and uneven — one that Black, a former nurse, compared to the inside of the ER.

She has settled dozens of internal feuds and dealt with 11 House chairmen to reach a deal on massive entitlement cuts. It would be the only GOP budget in recent memory to tack on mandatory spending cuts to a budget vehicle intended for a big policy overhaul like tax reform.

The Tennessee Republican coordinated the effort as she laid the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign in her home state, which she formally announced in August.

Note: Black says she may resign her seat in Congress at some point – after the budget situation has been resolved —  to devote more time to her run for governor. From The Tennessean:

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Black said to reporters Monday after a gubernatorial candidate forum at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville… “I’m still doing what I promised I would do and that’s to try to get the budget across the line,” Black said. “It’s out of my committee, but I feel obligated to continue to work to get that done and we’re working on that right now.”

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