Citing 'gimmicks,' Corker holds up GOP budget agreement

GOP's 2016 Senate strategy
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    GOP's 2016 Senate strategy


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Washington (CNN)Complaining about Congress's use of "gimmicks" that he believes mask spending details, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is holding up an agreement on a major House and Senate Republican budget blueprint that GOP congressional leaders were hoping to pass this week.

"What I'd like for our budgeting process to do is to rid itself of a lot of the gimmicks that have been used in the past that actually spend a lot more money than people think we're spending," the Republican told reporters Tuesday as he left a Republican policy lunch where the issue was discussed.
Corker's refusal to sign the budget agreement, which is required because he's one of the formal negotiators on the measure, means House and Senate floor votes could be put off until after the House returns from a scheduled recess next week. It also puts a kink in the ambitions of GOP leaders to run a more orderly appropriations process now that they are in charge of both chambers of Congress.
Separately, a big selling point for conservatives is that Republicans plan to use their budget to set up a vote to repeal Obamacare that would only need a simple majority vote in the Senate, not the 60 votes normally required on major bills.
    Among other things, Corker opposes a provision included in the bill known as "CHIMPS," or changes in mandatory programs, which deals with the way spending cuts are accounted for in programs like Medicare and other areas of mandatory spending.
    "It's a budget gimmick," he said.
    Corker's stand against the budget agreement comes as he is managing a bill that would give Congress some say over any nuclear agreement the U.S. and other countries reach with Iran. It was unclear if the issues were somehow connected.
    Also on Tuesday, Senate Democrats railed against the emerging GOP budget, which would cut many domestic spending programs while boosting money for defense spending. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a leader of the party, warned that Democrats would not vote for government spending bills that include the proposed cuts.
    If that happens, Congress could be headed towards another major showdown this fall, with the threat of another government shutdown.
    "Republicans should be warned right here, right now, Democrats are not going to help you pass appropriations bills that lock in senseless, automatically triggered cuts that hurt the middle class," Schumer said at a news conference. "Instead, we'll be eager to work with our Republican colleagues to prevent those cuts from taking effect and restoring both defense spending and vital middle class funding in an even way; $1 for defense, $1 for the middle class."