House panel approves Ryan budget

 

The House Budget Committee on Wednesday evening approved the latest budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on a 22-16 vote.

The resolution now heads to a full House vote next week, after which point it will die because the Senate is not doing a budget resolution this year and spending panels are already using a cap set by a December bipartisan agreement. 

The final tally came shortly before 9 p.m. after a marathon markup hearing that began at 10:30 a.m. The meeting featured dozens of Democratic amendments that were defeated.

Ryan said explicitly at the meeting that the 2015 budget will be his last as chairman. He is vying to become the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee next year, which is charged with putting much of the budget's plans on entitlement spending and taxes into binding law. 

The new budget cuts $5.1 trillion in spending over 10 years and once again converts Medicare into an optional private insurance system for future seniors. 

"Our critics might call this steep. But look at it at this way: On the current path, the federal government will spend roughly $48 trillion over the next 10 years. By contrast, this budget will spend nearly $43 trillion," Ryan said. 

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The budget adheres to the $1.014 trillion top-line number appropriators are already using for this year but does not contain the detailed tax reform plan outlined by current Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). That plan would have curtailed many popular tax breaks. 

Democrats are eager to use the Ryan plan in the upcoming midterm elections in which, current polls indicate, they face an uphill battle to regain the House.

“The public should take it very seriously, because it tells people exactly what Republicans in Congress would do if they had the power to impose their will on the country,” ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said at the markup.

Van Hollen, a personal friend of Ryan's, noted that Ryan is in his last of 14 years on the committee. 

"While we clearly don't like your budget, we appreciate the professional way you have conducted business in this committee," Van Hollen said. He joked that Democrats wanted to get Ryan a present but sequester cuts prevented that.

Amendments from the minority put committee Republicans on record opposing minimum wage increases, extensions of unemployment insurance, expansion of Head Start and of the comprehensive Senate immigration bill. The votes are likely to feature in campaign ads in the fall.