Georgia Senate race looms large over vote on House Republican budget

Reps. Paul Broun (R) and Phil Gingrey (R) were two of 10 Republican lawmakers to vote against the House GOP budget on Thursday, votes likely informed by their political prospects in the upcoming Georgia Senate race.

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Their "no" votes come as a handful of members in the Georgia delegation begin to position themselves to pursue a rare open Senate seat. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) plans to retire at the end of his term. 

Broun is thus far the only lawmaker to make his bid official, but Gingrey and Reps. Jack Kingston (R) and Tom Price (R) are all said to be considering a run for the GOP nomination.

Kingston and Price both voted in favor of the budget.

The Senate race has cast a shadow over the Georgia delegation in the opening months of the congressional session. In a state as red as Georgia, any lawmaker seeking the GOP Senate nomination will have to prove their conservative bona fides through their legislative work.

That consideration seemed to inform a number of recent votes, as Broun, Kingston and Gingrey all voted "no" on the continuing resolution to fund the government earlier this month. They also voted against the rule to bring the vote to the floor, flouting House leadership. 

Also on Thursday, Broun, Gingrey and Kingston voted against a $984 billion spending bill to keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year. 

Gingrey's "no" vote on the Ryan budget on Thursday came even as he praised the budget in a statement to The Hill earlier this week.

"Our national debt is almost $16.7 trillion and continues to climb, yet the Senate Democrats’ budget — their first in nearly four years — calls for $1 trillion in new taxes. Meanwhile, President Obama seems asleep at the wheel, having yet to even produce one. House Republicans have produced two, both of which balance the budget, cut spending, and reform entitlement programs. I support conservative principles that spur job growth, provide economic stability, and restore fiscal responsibility to our federal government," Gingrey said in the statement, before voting "no" on Thursday.

He clarified in a statement to The Hill following the vote that he voted no on the budget because it didn't defund President Obama's health care law.

"Obamacare is bad fiscal policy, a nightmare for patients, and a drag on the economy. Based on this grim reality, I have opposed the continuing resolution because it does not defund Obamacare and — consistent with this position — I voted against the Ryan budget because it left the enormous Obamacare taxes in place," he said on Thursday.

When asked about the perception that Gingrey might be following Broun's lead on the vote, his spokeswoman Jen Talaber disagreed.

"He has been consistently conservative in his voting record, regardless of how Paul Broun or anyone else votes," she said.

--This post was updated at 2:46 p.m. to reflect Gingrey's statement following the vote.

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