OFF INTO THE...

OFF INTO THE SUNSET. Budget negotiations within the House GOP conference stalled last week over disputes between moderates, who wanted some boosts in spending, and the Republican Study Committee (RSC) folks, who were pushing for some of their usual litany of draconian caps and budget process changes. John Boehner and Dennis Hastert have pledged to keep working on the budget following the end of the recess, and there is indication that the RSC might win from the House leadership (as well as the White House) a provision setting up a so-called "sunset commission." That's an appointed body to which every single discretionary program would need to appeal for renewed funding every ten years; Congress would then have to vote affirmatively to keep the program, or it would be eliminated. (The president proposed such a commission in his budget this year, as he had last year.) Given the collapse of the GOP's unity and legislative capabilities this year, as the midterms approach and the party's popularity sinks, it seems unlikely that such a provision could pass -- but evil conservative budget process gambits are always kicking around, and are always worth keeping an eye on. See more on sunset commissions from OMBWatch here.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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