In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Hill GOPers Are Changing Their Tune On Fiscal Responsibility

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AP Photo / Cliff Owen

As President Donald Trump barrels ahead with plans to construct a wall on the Southern border, congressional Republicans – the same ones who demanded spending be offset at every turn when Obama was President– appear to be resigned to handing over the congressional credit card to Trump.

Three reporters asked the same question of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a press conference in Philadelphia Thursday morning during the GOP congressional retreat: If President Donald Trump wants a border wall, will Congress make sure it is offset with spending cuts before they spend billions on it?

The answer?

"We're gonna wait and see from the administration what their supplemental looks like," Ryan said. "I'm not going to get ahead of a policy and a bill that hasn't been written yet, but the point is we're going to finance the Secure Fence Act, which is the construction of a barrier on the border."

Ryan was coy about whether Republicans would demand that spending be offset with cuts to programs elsewhere, but the fact that the answer wasn't an unequivocal "no, spending must be offset," speaks volumes.

That had defined the Republican opposition to Democratic ideas for years.

Over the years Republicans have demanded spending cuts to offset money to fight Zika, to aid the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, to provide an extension of unemployment insurance to those who lost jobs in the recession and to help cover health care benefits of 9/11 first responders. Yet Trump is challenging that Republican position. If offsets had been an excuse to deny Obama his agenda, it had been a convenient one. Republicans don't seem to care as much about the national deficit with their guy in the White House.

About The Author

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.