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House Budget Republicans agree to boost military funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on a key House panel Wednesday agreed on a budget outline that would give the military more money than President Donald Trump requested while paving the way for Congress to tackle an overhaul of the tax code this fall.

The plan, sealed among the conservatives who dominate the House Budget Committee, would largely reject cuts proposed by Trump and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to annual domestic agency operating budgets. It would modestly trim benefit programs such as food stamps.

Committee Chairman Diane Black hopes to hold a vote on the GOP measure soon, but it may run into resistance from conservatives seeking tougher restraint on spending and defense hawks demanding even more for the military.

A spokesman for Speaker Paul Ryan said the Wisconsin Republican had yet to sign off on the plan. GOP leaders are worried that Black’s proposal may not be able to win enough votes to pass on the floor.

At issue is legislation known as a budget resolution, which is a non-binding document that sets up a broad outline for follow-up legislation such as the appropriations bills Congress passes each year.

The budget plan would also pave the way for floor action on a tax reform bill that could advance through the Senate without the threat of a filibuster by Democrats. The GOP measure would require the upcoming tax bill to be “revenue neutral” — or not add to the deficit, which means it couldn’t deliver the “massive” tax cut promised by Trump.

While the budget outline would, in theory, promise to balance the federal ledger over 10 years, Republican leaders don’t plan to follow through on several trillion in deep spending cuts that would be required to actually deliver a balanced budget. For starters, Trump has declared Medicare off limits and the budget blueprint will promise cuts to other domestic programs that GOP leaders have no intention of following up on in later legislation.

Trump has requested $603 billion for core Pentagon operations next year, up from about $551 billion passed last month for the current fiscal year. The GOP plan promises $620 billion for the Pentagon, but members of the House Armed Services Committee are pressing for $640 billion.

In the end, it will take a sign-off by Senate Democrats to pass the annual spending bills, but any deal appears far off.

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