House passes measure setting budget at 2008 levels or lower

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 Ryan (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 Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Matheson (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 Cantor (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.