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Some Blue Dogs Balk on Budget

Fiscally conservative Democrats made their feelings known about spending in the $3 trillion fiscal 2009 budget blueprint, which narrowly passed the House on Thursday.

Blue Dogs made up the bulk of the 14 Democrats who sided with Republicans in opposing the resolution, which squeaked by on a 214-210 vote. They were also a chunk of the seven Democrats not voting at all. No Republicans voted for the resolution.

Democrats who voted against the budget plan were Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Dan Cazayoux (La.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Bill Foster, (Ill.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Nick Lampson (Texas), Jim Matheson (Utah), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) and Patrick Murphy (Pa.).

Of those, nine are part of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and three — Cazayoux, Childers and Foster — are recent special election winners in previously Republican districts.

Of the seven Democrats who voted “present” on the budget bill, three are Blue Dogs: Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.), Jim Marshall (Ga.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.).

Despite the close vote, Blue Dog leaders subsequently issued a statement praising the budget plan for seeking to eliminate wasteful spending and for adhering to pay-as-you-go rules.

Blue Dog Co-Chairman Mike Ross (D-Ark.) described the measure as “a fiscally responsible, PAYGO-compliant budget resolution.”

“The Blue Dogs take our commitment to fiscal responsibility very seriously, and this budget conference report is another example of how Democrats are working to live up to this commitment,” said Blue Dog Co-Chairman Allen Boyd (D-Fla.).

Throughout debate, Republicans grumbled about the budget plan proposing to make “the largest tax hike in American history” and complained that it lacks entitlement reforms.

House GOP Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said it is fair that a budget should reflect a majority party’s priorities, but that “we believe their priorities are wrong.”

Democrats are “piling on massive amounts of new debt,” said House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Democrats countered that Republicans had no room to talk about fiscal responsibility given the amount of debt that accrued when they controlled Congress.

“One thing I can say after six years of being under Republican control: We’ll forever be in your debt,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who drew an audible laugh on the floor from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Don’t act like, ‘Look Ma, no hands,’” Emanuel chided Republicans. “You had something to do with it.”

Pelosi praised the budget plan for reflecting national values with its investments in education and health care, and dismissed GOP charges of staggering new tax increases.

“Despite what Republicans said, there are no new tax increases in this budget,” the Speaker said. In fact, she said, it has a $340 billion tax reduction in revenues.

What GOP Members are actually upset about is that the budget outline has tax cuts for middle-class families, “not just for their friends in the upper 1 percent bracket,” Pelosi said.

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