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The House passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon giving Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) broad authority to set spending caps for the upcoming continuing resolution.

Members voted 256-165, with 17 Democrats breaking ranks to vote in favor.

The measure gives Ryan the authority to impose a set spending limit for the next fiscal year. Republicans have said they would set this year’s discretionary spending at fiscal 2008 levels, although those budget cuts are unlikely to apply to current spending. They would be imposed after the next CR is approved in mid-February.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) harshly criticized the decision to give Ryan what he called “unilateral authority” over spending levels; he called it unprecedented. “I can never remember one person being given the authority to do this,” Hoyer said, adding that lawmakers voted “blind.”

“They have no idea what figure Mr. Ryan will be plugging in,” he said.

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