House approves Ryan budget

The House approved Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2014 budget plan on Thursday in a 221-207 vote. 

Only 10 Republicans voted against the Ryan budget, highlighting GOP unity around the blueprint. 

The vote is a victory for House Republicans, who have a narrower majority this year and had to work harder to minimize defections from conservative Republicans. Many conservatives want to approach the budget deficit even more aggressively than Ryan, whose budget would balance in a decade.

The Republicans who voted against the Ryan budget were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Tom Massie (Ky.) and David McKinley (W.Va.).

Ryan's budget calls for cutting taxes, repealing the 2010 healthcare law and slowing the rate of growth in government spending to achieve a balanced budget in 10 years. Ryan said Thursday morning that Congress needs to get on the glide path to balance to avoid a serious debt crisis, and blamed President Obama for failing to provide leadership on this issue.

"He gets his NCAA bracket in on time, but still no budget," Ryan said Thursday, repeating the GOP criticism that Obama is paying attention to college basketball, but not his budget duties, which require the submission of a budget in early February.

"This is the fourth time in five years," Ryan said of Obama's late budget. "He set a new record this year, two months with no plan while we have trillion dollar deficits and a debt crisis on the horizon.

"They have time for the attacks, but no time to offer serious solutions."

Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) repeated the Democratic argument that the GOP budget would cut vital programs for Americans, and does not reflect the will of voters in the last election.

"This is an uncompromising, ideological approach to our budget issues," he said.

But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) congratulated Ryan for bringing forward a budget that balances, unlike all the other budgets presented by Democrats that were voted down on Wednesday.

"We have a budget here that will, in fact, balance over the next 10 years, and [we're] having a debate with our colleagues across the aisle and across the building and downtown who all have budgets that never come to balance," Boehner said.

Last year, Ryan's budget passed with 10 GOP defections. This year, Republicans could only afford 15 defections.

But Wednesday brought a sign that even with fewer Republicans in the House, Ryan's more mainstream GOP budget plan would still win out. 

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) budget, which called for cutting discretionary spending to 2008 levels and freezing those levels until the budget balances in just four years, won just 104 Republican votes, compared to the 136 votes it received last year. 

Some of the drop was due to the Democratic strategy of voting "present" on the RSC budget, which forced Republicans to do most of the work in making sure the RSC budget failed.

But Democrats used that same voting strategy two years ago, and 119 Republicans voted for the RSC budget then, 15 more than this week's vote.

Four of the ten Republicans voting against the budget supported the tougher RSC budget. But there were other reasons to vote against Ryan's plan.

McKinley, for example, said Ryan's plan is better than others, but said it leaves in place billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, fails to reform foreign aid, and does not spare some budgets from cuts, like that of the FBI.

McKinley also criticized both the House and Senate budget plans for failing to find a bipartisan way forward on all of these issues.

"Any solution to the challenges this country faces, whether it is deficit reduction, tax reform, or reforms to welfare or Medicare, will need to be bipartisan in nature," he said. "Unfortunately both the House and Senate budgets fail that fundamental test."

Updated at 10:57 a.m. and again at 2:55 p.m.

More in House

Paul Ryan backs Tom Price for GOP leader

Read more »