By Ramsey Cox
The Senate rejected House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget Thursday night.
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) forced Senate Republicans to vote on Paul’s plan through an amendment she offered, which failed on a 40-59 vote.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) voted with Democrats against Ryan's plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a prospective 2016 GOP presidential nominee, voted for Ryan's budget.
"Enough is enough. Republicans received a vote on their extreme proposal; now that it has failed once more, it's time for Republicans to work with Democrats to enact a budget that reflects our values of fairness and opportunity for all," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the vote.
Ahead of the vote, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) urged his colleagues to support Ryan's budget.
Ryan’s budget passed in the House Thursday morning on a 221-207 vote. His plan would reform the tax code in order to pay for a tax rate deduction, among other things. Ryan would reduce the top tax rate to 25 percent — a reduction of more than 10 percentage points.
Democrats have said that Ryan would have to raise taxes on the middle class by ending tax deductions that benefit families in order to pay for tax cuts to the wealthiest.
"Our budget uses new revenue from the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations for deficit reduction, and for investments that support our economy and strengthen our middle class," Murray said. “But the House Republican budget would do the opposite."
Murray’s budget includes $100 billion in stimulus funding that she says would help boost economic growth and workforce training. Her plan has come under heavy fire from Republicans who say it over-estimates the extent to which it would reduce the deficit, and it raises nearly $1 trillion in new taxes. Democrats say their budget cuts the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years through an equal amount of spending cuts and new revenue, but the GOP has said that because it assumes the sequester will not happen, the amount of deficit reduction is closer to $700 billion.
Murray said Americans prefer her "balanced" approach over Ryan's "unbalanced" plan because her plan includes revenue and spending cuts. She added that the public rejected Ryan's budget ideas in the November election.
"Americans want to see a budget that puts the middle class first, and asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to do their fair share towards deficit reduction," Murray said. “Unfortunately, rather than meeting the clear demands of the vast majority of the American people, House Republicans put forward a budget last week that doubles down on that rejected ideology."
Ryan balances the budget over 10 years with $5.7 trillion in projected spending cuts. Democrats have criticized his plan for "gutting" programs that benefit the middle class and turn Medicare into a voucher system.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) offered an amendment that would prevent Medicare from becoming a voucher program. Her amendment received a 96-3 vote.
Cruz, Lee and Paul voted against Stabenow's amendment.
“I am proud that the Senate Budget preserves and protects Medicare for seniors today and in the future," Murray said. “Medicare is vital to the health and well being of more than 50 million seniors and Americans with disabilities."
The Senate reached a deal to hold five amendment votes Thursday night and will vote on six more amendments Friday morning at 11 a.m., while the 50 hours of required debate continues. Debate time could be yielded back in order to start the "vote-a-rama" on an unlimited number of germane amendments before 7 p.m. Friday.
—This article was updated at 9:38 p.m. to include Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) statement.