House Votes Down Bipartisan Budget Plan

Posted March 28, 2012 at 10:02pm

The House dealt a crushing blow to efforts to find a big deficit reduction deal tonight, routing a bipartisan budget based on President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission on a 38-to-382 vote.

The chamber also unanimously voted down a proposal based on the president’s $3.6 trillion budget brought up by a GOP lawmaker, with all 414 Members who cast votes opposed.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney offered the plan in a seeming effort to embarrass Democrats into voting against it, a line that will no doubt echo across the campaign trail for the rest of the year.

“It’s the president’s budget so you would think that maybe Congress would bring it up and vote on it, but evidently Democrats didn’t think that so I’m doing them that favor,” the South Carolina Republican said in an interview.

Democrats, however, cried foul. Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said that the document was a stripped-down version of Obama’s plan that didn’t include any policy statements and therefore was a “charade.”

Members also panned the “Go Big” deficit reduction efforts despite high hopes from its co-sponsors that the measure would at least pick up triple-digit support.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), who sponsored the $1.043 trillion budget with Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), told reporters earlier in the day that he had hoped for at least 100 “yes” votes to match the number of Members who endorsed the “Go Big” efforts aimed at persuading the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction to strike a bipartisan deal.

“Surprising people have come up to me” expressing support, he said. “The telltale sign is it’s being vigorously attacked from the left and the right, which is a sign that you’re on to something.”

But the effort failed and was voted down even by some of its biggest boosters. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who despite touting the “Go Big” efforts voted against the amendment, said in a statement that he did so because he did not think now was the right time to vote on the measure.

“In order to achieve a big and balanced deficit reduction package, we must build a broad consensus,” the Maryland Democrat wrote. “The budget substitute offered tonight by Reps. Jim Cooper and Steve LaTourette came to the Floor before that broad consensus could be achieved, which is why I voted against it.”

The Congressional Black Caucus sponsored the budget that received the most support tonight. It would have made no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. It failed on a 107-to-314 vote.

Voting down the first three substitute budget amendments marks the halfway point as Republican leaders whittle their way toward Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s fiscal 2013 blueprint, which is expected to pass Thursday afternoon.

Heading into Thursday’s deliberations, Republican leaders were confident that Ryan’s budget would pass.

“Momentum is good,” Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said. “I think there’s a recognition that what the Budget Committee did is thoughtful and well-grounded and reflective of our Conference.”

The House will also consider the conservative Republican Study Committee budget and a Van Hollen-sponsored Democratic alternative to the Ryan budget and will vote on the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget.

The CPC document was debated tonight, a move the group’s leaders decried as “cheap political posturing and an attempt to sweep the competition under the rug.”

“This outrageous maneuver limits the ability of the public and media to follow the exchange,” CPC Co-Chairmen Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the budget will almost certainly not pass, and Grijalva acknowledged as much by saying in an interview that he only hopes to get more than the 78 “yes” votes the fiscal 2012 CPC budget received last year.