By Russell Berman - 10/17/13 03:04 AM EDT
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) split with his party’s leadership and voted against the Senate fiscal agreement Wednesday night.
“To pay our bills today —- and to make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow -— we must make a down payment on the debt,” Ryan said. “Today’s legislation won’t help us reduce our fast-growing debt. In fact, it could extend the debt ceiling well into next year, further delaying any action. In my judgment, this isn’t a breakthrough. We’re just kicking the can down the road.”
Ryan worked closely with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to help craft the House GOP’s strategy during the government shutdown. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan will serve on a conference committee with Senate Democrats that must report its budget plans by Dec. 13. But in voting against the debt limit bill, he broke with Boehner and the entire senior GOP leadership team, who supported the Senate bill.
“I look forward to convening the first conference on a budget resolution since 2009,” Ryan said. “And though a budget resolution by itself can’t resolve our spending problem, I’m committed to making a bipartisan budget conference a success.”
His opposition was a reversal from January’s pivotal vote on "fiscal cliff" legislation, when Ryan stood with the Speaker against a majority of House Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), by supporting the measure.
The debt-limit measure passed the House Wednesday despite opposition from a majority of Republicans. Eighty-seven Republicans voted yes, and 144 voted no.
Shortly after the House vote, Boehner announced four Republican appointees to the conference committee: Ryan, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.). Price and Black also voted against the Senate bill.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ryan was asked whether he thought the budget conference committee could reach an agreement in spite of the deep ideological divide on fiscal issues between Republicans and Democrats.
"I just don’t know,” he replied.