The House on Tuesday approved a measure intended to set austere budget goals for the current fiscal year.

In a 256-165 vote, the House approved a measure instructing Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanNearly 600 VA dental patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis Republicans raise red flags about ObamaCare repeal strategy Overnight Healthcare: GOP in talks about helping insurers after ObamaCare repeal MORE (Wis.), the GOP chairman of the House Budget Committee, to set the budget for this year at 2008 spending levels or lower. 

The House approved H.Res. 38 on a mostly party-line vote after rejecting a Democratic motion to recommit the resolution by a 184-242 vote.

Seventeen Democrats voted with Republicans: Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyTrump’s vow on Medicare in doubt after HHS choice Red-state Dems face tough votes on Trump picks Red-state Democrat: I'll oppose Trump's health chief MORE (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim MathesonJim MathesonFirst black GOP woman in Congress wins reelection Lobbying world House Dem donated K to freshman GOP lawmaker MORE (Utah), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), and Heath Shuler (N.C.).


The vote came after another tense hour-long debate in which Democrats accused Republicans of not revealing the budget levels. Republicans countered that the resolution is the start of a process for reducing spending, not a final budget bill.

Republicans are trying to show voters that they are committed to reducing spending after winning back the House on a campaign to bring austerity to Washington. Ryan has talked about reducing spending for fiscal year 2011 by $60 billion, but some conservative Republicans have talked about making bigger cuts. 

The vote comes hours before President Obama is set to deliver the State of the Union address to Congress.

Republicans see the 2011 budget unfolding this way:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will provide data Wednesday on spending levels so far in FY 2011, and that will help Ryan decide how much more can be spent.

The House Appropriations Committee will prepare a continuing resolution (CR) based on Ryan's figures.

House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorChamber of Commerce overhauls lobbying operation Laura Ingraham under consideration for White House press secretary VA Dems jockey for Kaine's seat MORE (R-Va.) wants a vote on the CR the week of February 14. The current CR under which the government is operating expires in early March.

This story was updated at 3:07 p.m.