House Republicans passed the budget authored by Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Thursday, in a move that demonstrated a commitment to the principle of major spending cuts but will have no direct effect on how much the government spends. It has no chance of being taken up by the Democratically-controlled Senate.
The final vote, 219 to 205, was closer than the House's majority would suggest. Eight members did not vote. Twelve Republicans joined the 193 Democrats who voted no, largely because they thought the cuts didn't go far enough. Some, like Reps. David McKinley of West Virginia and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, actually said they cut too much.
The "Path to Prosperity" document, which proposes cutting $5.1 trillion from proposed spending over the next 10 years, is superseded by a bipartisan budget agreement negotiated by Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., late last year that sets spending levels for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. It passed both the House and Senate.
Ryan's budget gives Republicans a chance to tell the nation how they would govern if they were in charge. It would balance the budget in 10 years, largely through savings achieved by repealing the fodder for Republican attacks on President Obama during the 2012 campaign. Ryan includes his signature changes to the Medicare program, which would create a "premium support" system of a lump-sum payment to those who enroll in the program after 2024 so they can purchase insurance in the marketplace.
Earlier in the day, the House voted to reject a more conservative budget from the Republican Study Committee (RSC) by a vote of 133 to 291. Though the RSC praised Ryan's budget - and offered it in such a way that members could vote for their proposal ahead of the budget chairman's - they made cuts at a much deeper rate, promising to balance the budget in just four years. Seven of the 12 Republican "no" votes came from RSC members.