(Bloomberg) — House and Senate Republicans agreed on a unified budget plan Wednesday that would allow them to bypass Democrats and send President Barack Obama legislation to repeal or revise the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
The budget proposal spells out the Republican Party’s priorities by calling for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts to reach balance in nine years. Of this, $4.1 trillion in reductions would come from programs including entitlements like Medicare.
Discretionary spending in 2016 would be limited to $1.016 trillion, while war funding would total $96 billion, far above Obama’s request. The plan allows total spending of $3.9 trillion in 2016, with a $400 billion deficit.
The measure, to be set for votes in the House and Senate, is a non-binding framework for spending bills to be passed later.
“People might say this isn’t real,” Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said this week, “but it does require you to lay out how you are going to manage the people’s money if you were given the power to do so.”
A key aspect of the measure would give Republicans a vehicle to go after PPACA, which his administration said has extended coverage to 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the plan relies on “gimmicky accounting tricks to falsely claim balance.” He said it represents an attempt to pave the way for additional tax breaks for the wealthy.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky, said the budget’s mandated spending limits will continue to complicate the passage of the 12 annual appropriations bills, as it has in the past several years.
“It’s going to be tough to pass some of these bills,” he told reporters. “The numbers we are dealing with this year, overall, don’t even meet inflation so the squeeze is even further” than in previous years.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, expressed a more favorable view.
“This will change the way we do business here in Washington to make the government live within its means — just like hard-working families,” Enzi said.
Regarding PPACA, the U.S. Supreme Court plans to rule by the end of June on a lawsuit that could throw out most of the tax credits that are an underpinning of the law. If the justices do so, the entire law might crumble.
The budget agreement would let Republicans use a process called reconciliation to send revisions in PPACA to the president without needing votes from Democrats.
A policy statement contained in the deal says the health care law “is unaffordable, intrusive, overreaching, destructive and unworkable” and “should be fully repealed.”
“I like that it created a situation in reconciliation, so depending on how King vs. Burwell goes you can make some changes in Obamacare,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, referring to the case before the Supreme Court.