House Barely Passes Paul Ryan’s Budget, With 12 Republicans Voting No

All Democrats voted against the bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) walks to a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms and Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Sarah Mimms and Billy House
April 10, 2014, 8:48 a.m.

The House on Thursday nar­rowly passed Rep. Paul Ry­an’s Re­pub­lic­an budget, which in­cludes $5.1 tril­lion in spend­ing cuts over 10 years without clos­ing tax loop­holes, as Ry­an and oth­er GOP lead­ers aver­ted a po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing de­feat on the bill be­cause of party de­fec­tions.

The meas­ure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Re­pub­lic­ans join­ing all Demo­crats in vot­ing no. A swing of just sev­en Re­pub­lic­an votes would have de­feated the meas­ure.

Those Re­pub­lic­ans who lined up against the budget are a blend of mostly con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers and some mod­er­ates. They were: Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gin­grey, Jack King­ston, and Aus­tin Scott of Geor­gia; Thomas Massie of Ken­tucky; Rick Craw­ford of Arkan­sas; Chris Gib­son of New York; Frank Lo­Bi­ondo of New Jer­sey; Ral­ph Hall of Texas; Dave Jolly of Flor­ida; Wal­ter Jones of North Car­o­lina; and Dav­id McKin­ley of West Vir­gin­ia.

King­ston voted for the Ry­an budget in 2013, while Broun and Gin­grey op­posed it. All three are locked in a con­ten­tious, sev­en-way Re­pub­lic­an primary for re­tir­ing Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss’s seat. Scott, Hall, and Lo­Bi­ondo also sup­por­ted Ry­an’s budget last year.

Mean­while, Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Joe Heck of Nevada, and Randy For­bes of Vir­gin­ia, who op­posed the Ry­an budget last year, voted in fa­vor of the 2014 budget Thursday.

GOP Rep. Vance Mc­Al­lister of Louisi­ana, who has missed votes all week on the heels of a kiss­ing scan­dal, and Rep. Jon Run­yan of New Jer­sey did not vote. Six Demo­crats also did not vote, in­clud­ing Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is run­ning for gov­ernor of Pennsylvania.

The ac­tion fol­lowed a series of House votes on al­tern­at­ives, in­clud­ing de­feats earli­er Thursday of a House Demo­crat­ic al­tern­at­ive and Wed­nes­day of what Re­pub­lic­ans offered as a ver­sion of Pres­id­ent Obama’s pro­posed fisc­al 2015 budget — a de­pic­tion Demo­crats dis­puted.

In a lead-up to the vote on the Ry­an plan, the Budget Com­mit­tee chair­man and 2012 GOP vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee de­fen­ded his pro­pos­al on the cham­ber floor and cast the Demo­crat­ic al­tern­at­ive as one that “nev­er bal­ances.”

“At the end of the day, it’s just not cred­ible,” Ry­an said.

But Demo­crats, led by Budget Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Chris Van Hol­len and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, cast the Ry­an plan as one that pro­tects the rich and spe­cial in­terests at the ex­pense of the middle class, with Pelosi say­ing it is “a path to ru­in; it is not a path to prosper­ity.”

Pas­sage of the Ry­an bill is ef­fect­ively a sym­bol­ic mes­saging man­euver in a midterm-elec­tion year.

In fact, Demo­crats who lead the Sen­ate don’t plan to pass a budget at all for fisc­al 2015, which be­gins Oct. 1, say­ing that the two-year spend­ing agree­ment Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray reached in Decem­ber with Ry­an makes that un­ne­ces­sary. The Mur­ray-Ry­an agree­ment set dis­cre­tion­ary spend­ing levels for the up­com­ing fisc­al year at $1.014 tril­lion.

Even some Re­pub­lic­ans ac­know­ledge pas­sage of the Ry­an budget is more an as­pir­a­tion­al de­clar­a­tion of their party’s pri­or­it­ies and vis­ion of gov­ern­ment spend­ing.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not ne­ces­sar­ily a re­flec­tion of all House Re­pub­lic­ans’ vis­ion. Some con­ser­vat­ive de­fec­tions had been an­ti­cip­ated.

“This is a mes­saging bill. What it says is, if you give us the Sen­ate and we have the House, this is what we will do, this is what we can do,” Massie said earli­er this week.

“And so I think it should be bold, it should be cred­ible…. I think it should be bolder than it is and I can’t sup­port it.”

“The reas­on I’m not go­ing to vote for the Ry­an budget is it has the 10-year num­ber “¦ be­fore we bal­ance it,” he said. “When the Amer­ic­an people look at this and say we elec­ted them to bal­ance a budget and now they’re go­ing to rely on people 10 years from now to ac­tu­ally get the job done — when in fact this year we raised the budget gap, we couldn’t even keep the prom­ise that we made a year or two ago.”

Still, Ry­an’s plan does rep­res­ent a sort of Re­pub­lic­an mani­festo on deal­ing with the na­tion’s fin­ances. And Ry­an had said in un­veil­ing the plan last week that he thinks “it’s im­port­ant to show our vis­ion as a party for the fu­ture.” The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is now about $17.5 tril­lion in debt.

His budget pushes high­er de­fense spend­ing — and cuts and changes to Medi­care, Medi­caid, food stamps, and oth­er so­cial safety-net pro­grams.

Some 40 per­cent of the $5.1 tril­lion in sav­ings en­vi­sioned in Ry­an’s “big­ger pic­ture” for the next 10 years is de­pic­ted as com­ing through a full re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act. In all, his plan would spend about $42.6 tril­lion over 10 years, com­pared with about $47.8 tril­lion un­der ex­ist­ing policies.

At the same time, Ry­an’s budget does not say pre­cisely what he would re­place Obama­care with, only of­fer­ing the ex­pect­a­tion that it will be re­placed. And Demo­crats, like Van Hol­len of Mary­land, com­plain that Ry­an’s pro­pos­al, even while scrap­ping the health care law, keeps all of its more than $700 bil­lion in Medi­care sav­ings, as well as $1 tril­lion in rev­en­ues from Obama­care.

And Ry­an’s budget calls for re­du­cing taxes on the wealthy — in­di­vidu­als would have just two rates, 25 per­cent and 10 per­cent — and cut­ting the cor­por­ate tax rate to 25 per­cent. But it does not lay out a de­tailed route to those goals or even em­brace a re­cent one pro­posed by Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dave Camp of Michigan.

Ry­an’s plan would abide by the agree­ment with Mur­ray on a split in spend­ing levels between de­fense and nondefense pro­grams for fisc­al 2014 and 2015. But his longer-range mil­it­ary spend­ing would blow past that deal. Mil­it­ary spend­ing through 2024 would ac­tu­ally be in­creased by $483 bil­lion over a cap es­tab­lished in 2011, and to pre-se­quester levels — $274 bil­lion more than re­ques­ted by the pres­id­ent. Mean­while, nondefense spend­ing would be cut by $791 bil­lion.

To reach bal­ance in 10 years, Ry­an’s plan em­braces a con­tro­ver­sial “dy­nam­ic scor­ing” no­tion that there would be some pos­it­ive im­pact on the na­tion’s eco­nom­ic growth simply by re­du­cing the de­fi­cit and cut­ting spend­ing — al­though some eco­nom­ists dis­agree with this and even sug­gest that it could slow the eco­nomy. Ry­an had not in­cluded such a cal­cu­la­tion in his pre­vi­ous budget pro­pos­als.

Ry­an’s plan also would turn more con­trol of Medi­caid and food stamps over to states — an an­nu­al pro­pos­al that some say would save money but has been a pop­u­lar elec­tion-year tar­get for Demo­crats.

The plan re­tains Ry­an’s idea for each Medi­care re­cip­i­ent to choose from a list of cov­er­age op­tions and pay­ments that would “best suit his or her needs,” and then pay­ments would be made dir­ectly to that plan. Over the longer term, the pro­pos­al dis­cusses giv­ing seni­ors who first be­come eli­gible when turn­ing 65 on or after Jan. 1, 2024, a choice of se­lect­ing private plans along­side the tra­di­tion­al fee-for-ser­vice Medi­care pro­gram.

Ry­an in­sists that this is not a “vouch­er sys­tem.”

But Van Hol­len has dis­puted that. And he said on the House floor be­fore the vote that “budgets re­flect the choices we make for our coun­try. They tell the Amer­ic­an people what we care about and what we care less about.”

What We're Following See More »
Nuclear Bombers Preparing to Go Back on 24-Hour Alert
11 hours ago

"The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991...Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces."

Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.