House Passes Ryan Budget, 221-207
The Republican-held House of Representatives has passed Paul Ryan's FY 2014 budget, as well as the final version of a "continuing resolution" that will fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year. The latter item locked into place the reduced spending baseline established by the sequester. It does not defund Obamacare, although the GOP FY 2014 budget does. As I wrote earlier, the House rejected a trio of Democratic alternative budgets yesterday, including the Senate Democrats' offering -- which raises taxes by $1.5 trillion, increases overall spending, adds $7 trillion in new deficits and never balances. Robust bipartisan majorities torpedoed all three resolutions. The House Republican blueprint holds the line on taxes, reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion compared to the current path, and balances within ten years. It passed on a mostly party-line vote, 221-207; every Democrat and a handful of Republicans voted no. The GOP majority has complied with the law and passed a budget every year since gaining control of the House in the 2010 elections. Senate Democrats shirked their legally-mandated budgetary duties for nearly four years, but are finally poised to pass a plan of their own in the coming days. The president remains historically and unlawfully delinquent on his FY 2014 fiscal plan. Here's Paul Ryan laying out the case for his latest proposal and contrasting it with Democrats' vision:
[President Obama] set a record this year: Two months with no plan, while we have trillion dollar deficits and a debt crisis on our horizon. They have time for the attacks, but no time to offer serious solutions. His party's leaders are unfortunately failing to offer a serious account of our challenge. No serious plan to grow the economy or create jobs. No plan to ever balance the budget. Take more -- trillions of dollars more -- to spend more in Washington. That's what got us in this mess in the first place."
Over on the Senate side, they're in the midst of a "vote-a-rama," in which each party is guaranteed 25 hours of debate on the majority's budget resolution. This allows Senate Republicans to introduce a slew of amendments and force tough votes; Democrat Senators will have nowhere to hide. This, by the way, is precisely the reason why Democrats flouted the law and refused to produce budgets for the last three-plus years. They didn't want to expose themselves to uncomfortable votes, preferring instead to attack the other side's solutions. This year their pay is contingent upon producing a budget, so they've cobbled one together. So far, Democrats have already killed an amendment that would have restored funding to facilitate White House tours for school groups. Apparently the resources associated with those sequester cuts just aren't fungible. (Remember, the president threatened to veto a Republican plan that would have afforded him increased flexibility on this stuff. He has since blamed a series of unpopular-by-design cuts on the fact that his "hands are tied"). Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions has also offered an amendment requiring Democrats to produce a plan -- any plan -- that would balance their budget within ten years. That's also expected to go down in flames, likely along strict party lines. Sen. Pat Toomey is also expected to advance an amendment that would repeal Obamacare's harmful medical device tax, which has bipartisan support. Your move, Dems. I'm told the Senate budget debate could continue long into the night, or might bleed over into tomorrow, depending on how Harry Reid manages the schedule. If you're interested in watching these events unfold in real time, you can click back and forth between the hoops tourney and C-SPAN 2.
UPDATE - Unsurprisingly, Senate Democrats have been assailing the House-passed budget as brutally austere and devastating to children and the elderly. This "monstrous" plan increases federal spending by an average of 3.4 percent per year, saves Medicare, and balances. The Democrat plan accelerates spending beyond the current rate of increase of nearly five percent annually, keeps Medicare on its death march and never balances -- all despite a hefty tax hike.
UPDATE II - On a tangentially related note, Reuters is now reporting that sequester-related unemployment predictions were likely overblown. I'm shocked.