Republican leaders tamp down rebellion

House Republican leaders appear to have warded off a conservative effort to protest their decision to hold a voice vote on Medicare legislation by opposing Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget.

Key critics of the leadership maneuver on the “doc fix” vote said Friday they planned on supporting the GOP budget authored by Ryan (R-Wis.).

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Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) was one of the members most angry about a voice vote last week on legislation to prevent a cut in physician payments under Medicare. The House passed the legislation by voice vote with only dozens of members on the floor.

Mulvaney called the maneuver, rarely used on controversial pieces of legislation, “bulls---,” and said he was undecided on the budget.

But he emerged from a floor conversation on Friday with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) singing a different tune. 

“Earlier I was undecided but I am leaning 'yes,' ” Mulvaney told The Hill. 

Mulvaney's office said the floor discussion with Boehner was unrelated to the Ryan budget vote.

Asked about using the budget vote to protest the voice vote, he said: “I’ve come to realize that this is not the measure ... it’s not a spending bill.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), an ally of Mulvaney’s, also emerged from a Boehner confab to say he is leaning "yes" on Ryan’s budget.

Budget votes are always difficult for the party in power, and Republicans can afford only 16 defections to move their legislation through the lower chamber, assuming every Democrat opposes it. Ten Republicans voted against last year’s budget.

As a result, hurt feelings and anger over the voice vote on the Medicare legislation could have been a real problem.

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) is furious about last week’s maneuver, and complained about it to reporters.

On Friday, he said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has discussed the voice vote debacle with him personally, after Gohmert said he was “undecided” on the new Ryan plan. 

“I received a call from the majority leader. I said I will sit there for every suspension bill if that is what it takes to prevent something like that and I have been assured that that will not be necessary,” he said. 

“I don’t ever want to be fooled twice. ... It has definitely affected how I whip on the budget,” Gohmert told The Hill.

Gohmert said he has been working with Ryan on some unspecified problems he has with the substance of the budget, which would balance after 10 years by cutting $5.1 trillion without raising taxes and while increasing defense spending. 

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a Tea Party conservative, said he is leaning "yes" on the budget after studying it.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) said he is moving from undecided toward leaning yes after talking with leaders about the doc fix vote.

"I wasn't too happy with what happened on SGR, but we're having some good conversations and plan to have some more conversations," he told The Hill.

Leadership has had conservative allies in quelling any possible rebellion on the right.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been firmly in leadership’s camp on the need to insulate the Ryan plan from those upset over the doc-fix vote.

“This is a separate issue. The law says we need to pass a budget and we are going to pass a budget,” Scalise told The Hill as he headed into a meeting in Cantor’s office. 

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) said there is a general sentiment among rank-and-file Republicans that any protest vote on the budget would damage Ryan, and not GOP leaders.

Ryan is much more popular with the rank and file than the leadership, and was not involved in the doc-fix decision

A number of conservatives do plan to vote against Ryan’s budget, and some of them are in primary fights.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) voted for the Ryan plan last year but is now leaning against it. He is running for Georgia’s open Senate seat against fellow Georgia GOP Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, who both voted "no" last year and are set to vote "no" again.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) is also ready to flip and vote "no" this time, while conservative Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said he is undecided. 

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said he will again vote "no," while Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) are expected to vote "no." Amash said he is undecided, but he has said that in past years before voting against Ryan's budget.

Jones said he rejects any budget with foreign aid in it and opposes converting Medicare into a partially privatized insurance system. 

There appears to be no appetite for a defection from Northeast Republicans or appropriators, who tend to favor less sharp cuts to discretionary funds than what Ryan is proposing. 

“I am going to be supporting it as I have in the past. Because we need a plan to get this fiscal house in order,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who represents a lean Republican district, said.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is voting for it again as well. 

“Whether you agree with everything in the budget or not, it is important to have a framework out there to work off of,” he said. 

— Russell Berman contributed.  

This story was last updated at 3:17 p.m.