House Passes Ryan Budget, Sets Up Spending Fight With Senate

Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:29pm

The House easily passed Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) $1.028 trillion fiscal blueprint today, ending months of GOP infighting over spending levels but scuttling hopes of passing the appropriations bills in regular order this year.

The document sets up a year’s worth of political talking points for both parties — with Democrats primed to accuse Republicans of voting to “end Medicare” and the GOP ready to return fire with the claim that they passed a budget while Senate Democrats have not. The Democratic-controlled Senate may take up the Ryan budget, but it would only be to kill it — a scenario that played out last year on a similar House budget plan.

Rather than pass its own budget, the Senate has vowed to adhere to the $1.047 trillion spending level that both chambers agreed to in last summer’s debt limit deal, known as the Budget Control Act. As a consequence, Members on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the government operational past Sept. 30.

Still, Speaker John Boehner said on the House floor that the fiscal 2013 Ryan budget lays out a vision of what Republicans would do if they were in charge of the legislative branch and the presidency.

“It’s a real pathway to prosperity. It makes the decisions and puts us on a course that’s sustainable, not just for our generation, but for our kids and our grandkids,” the Ohio Republican said. “I think it’s high time that we’re serious about actually solving America’s fiscal problems. The first step is actually doing a budget.”

The measure passed 228-191, with all Democrats and a few Republicans opposed.

Democrats decried the Ryan budget, saying it is chock full of tax cuts for millionaires and calling its proposed changes to Medicare an effort to “end” the program as we know it.

“If you’re a senior, the Ryan budget takes you down a path where the Medicare guarantee is cut,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.) said.

Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) laid out his own budget, but with too few Democrats to get 218 votes, the measure failed on the floor, 163-262. All Republicans and some Democrats voted against it.

Unlike last year, when Ryan’s budget sailed through the House, some conservative Members voted against the GOP blueprint, stating that it spends too much.

The conservative Republican Study Committee offered an alternative vision which would cap government spending at $931 billion through 2017.

Democrats reprised their hardball tactic from last year, stationing staffers at the chamber’s voting stations to ask Democrats to hold their votes on the measure until Republicans cast their ballots. If Democrats abstained, Republicans could have inadvertently passed the RSC budget with a simple majority of GOP Members.

But unlike last year, when Democrats surprised Republicans into nearly passing the RSC alternative, the GOP was ready and easily batted away the tactic.

After it became clear the GOP would not pass the RSC budget on its own, Democrats cast their votes and the measure ultimately failed 136-285.

In the end, RSC leaders gave their blessing to the Ryan budget, calling it a step in the right direction.