House Passes Ryan Budget
George C. Crawford
After 2 days of debate, House Republicans successfully fended off several alternative budgets and passed the budget blueprint recommended by the House Budget Committee by a vote of 228-191. The Ryan Budget reduces the level of discretionary spending by $19 billion below the debt limit agreement reached in August and includes an overhaul of the nation's tax code and major changes to popular entitlements such as Medicare -expensive programs that in the past have been considered politically untouchable. No Democrats voted for the proposal joined by 10 Republican members. Other alternatives offered were all defeated. The major proposal offered by Democrats was rejected by a vote of 163-262 . Twenty-two Democrats joined a unified Republican party in rejecting that budget. A budget blueprint put forth by the conservative Republican Study Committee was defeated 136-285.
While the Ryan Budget has no chance of being adopted in the Senate, it does set the stage for a wide-open debate on the subjects of tax levels, Medicare and deficit reduction.
Reinforcing the election-year nature of the process, Speaker Boehner is reported to have said “When the president and I were in our discussions and we would get hung up or have a disagreement over something, the president would look at me and say, ‘John, that’s what elections are for,’” Speaker Boehner continued, “Yes, Mr. President, you’re correct. That’s what elections are for.”
What will follow next is Senate action, if any, on a counter proposal and the all-important allocations that will be given to the Appropriations Committees that control the amount of discretionary spending in each chamber and any reconciliation instructions that will flow to committees to cut spending. Not to be overlooked if a Budget Resolution isn't agreed upon by the House and Senate - any reconciliation directives embodied in the House-passed version won't enjoy the benefit of a filibuster proof process in the Senate virtually ensuring that any major legislative action will not take place in the budget realm the remainder of the year.