Politico: House GOP budget woes could be ‘politically devastating’ for Diane Black

Politico has a feature story Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Diane Black, “the woman in the middle of House Republicans’ budget woes” as chair of the House Budget Committee.

The article has considerable detail on Black’s efforts to put together a federal budget deal, including the collapse of what she thought was a workable plan last week because some Republicans thought the cuts were too much and GOP leaders didn’t want to force things. And it’s got some background on Black herself.

An excerpt:

She’s caught between a committee stocked with fiscal hawks eager to cut the deficit, with whom she sympathizes, and other GOP chairmen loath to go along with her ambitious plan for curbing Pentagon spending and mandatory programs like food stamps.

Much is at stake. President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress can’t rewrite the tax code without getting a budget passed for procedural reasons. And failure to pass a budget could be devastating politically for Black, who’s considering a bid for Tennessee governor.

Meanwhile, Black’s conservative budget panel members are increasingly frustrated with the stalemate and worry they’re getting steamrolled. Their anger is targeted not at Black, whom they applaud for scrambling to get everyone on the same page, but at GOP leaders they feel aren’t defending Black’s ideas and their panel’s jurisdiction.

Many committee members are urging Black to put her foot down, even though she is close with Speaker Paul Ryan, who blessed her bid for the gavel.

“She’s tried to find consensus. … But when it’s time to say, ‘We’ve made the decision, we’re moving’ … and when it’s time to say, ‘No, you’re not going to get exactly what you want,’ she knows how to do that,” said senior budget panel member Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

Another panel member was more blunt while speaking anonymously, calling the back and forth a game of “political chicken.”

“She ought to say: Dammit, this is your f—-ing number,” the lawmaker said. “Do you want the committee to work the committee’s will and do regular order? Or do you want to dictate the process? You can’t have it both ways.”

… Elected in 2010, Black has faced stiff challenges before. The daughter of a World War II veteran and a homemaker, Black grew up in Baltimore public housing and was the first in her family to go to college. Her first husband, an alcoholic, left her. Black became a single mom with three young children and worked as an emergency room nurse.

Black decided to run for the Tennessee statehouse after she remarried and moved to the Volunteer State, founding a successful drug-testing company with her current husband. Since then, she’s never lost an election — except a long-shot bid for speaker of the state House. She was the first woman to vie for the job.

Black rode the tea party wave to Washington and won a prized seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, an unusual feat for a freshman. She told friends at the time, “I am 60 years old; I do not have time to wait.” And she buttonholed every member of the GOP steering committee until she won the spot.

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