Why 17 Republicans voted against 2016 House budget
© Greg Nash

Seventeen House Republicans voted against their party's fiscal 2016 budget, which passed in a 228-199 vote last Wednesday.

GOP leaders faced a challenge appealing to both deficit hawks who wanted steep cuts and defense hawks who wanted to boost military spending over the caps imposed in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The House initially voted on two plans: Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price's (R-Ga.) blueprint and a modified version of his plan with more spending for the Pentagon's overseas contingency operations fund without offsets. The second budget won more votes on the floor and was officially adopted.


All House Democrats voted against the budget in the final vote along with 17 Republicans, five more than in 2014.

Here's why Republican lawmakers voted against the bill:


Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics MORE (Mich.) — Amash backed Price’s original budget but rejected the second blueprint because it didn't offset additional defense spending.

“It doesn't ask for any cuts to other programs,” he said in a statement. “The Armed Services Committee's budget lays the foundation for more spending from both parties, hundreds of billions of dollars of new debt, and tax hikes.”

Rep. Ken Buck (Colo.) — Buck said that the proposed blueprint would not balance the budget quickly enough, leading to increased taxes and deficits. “It is based on false assumptions and ignores the political and economic realities we will face over the next decade,” he said in a statement. “Our $18.1 trillion debt is harming the economy now, and as the debt continues to skyrocket, it will destroy the economy for our children and grandchildren.”

Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.) — Comstock suggested she had concerns about inadequate defense spending in a statement after the vote. “While we work on getting America’s fiscal house in order, we need to be mindful of the grave national security threats that still face us and the needs of our hardworking government employees — the majority of whom work in agencies that support law enforcement, our national defense, and homeland security,” she said. Comstock's district in suburban D.C. is home to many federal workers.

Rep. Rick CrawfordRick CrawfordGas shortages spread to more states Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (Ark.) — “Until Congress accepts that non-binding budget resolutions are ineffective without a permanent law like a balanced budget amendment or spending limitation amendment, the budget process will only be an exercise in futility and our debt crisis will continue on its current path,” Crawford said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Gibson (N.Y.) — Gibson also voted against the GOP budget last year. The centrist Republican represents a district President Obama won twice. Gibson announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) — “After supporting two other budgets, I voted against the final version because it was irresponsible, adding billions in additional deficits and including only reconciliation suggestions, not definitive instructions to repeal ObamaCare,” said Huelskamp, a prominent fiscal conservative and critic of House leadership, in a statement to The Hill.

Rep. David Jolly (Fla.) — Jolly said the budget plan didn't do enough to eliminate deficits in a speech at a Florida event after the vote. “There’s no reason for anybody to serve in the U.S. Congress if one day they’re going to look back and see that the debt increased under their watch,” he said, according to Saint Peters Blog. He voted against last year's budget as well.

Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) — Jones called the increased spending “irresponsible” and “immoral.”

“Frankly, I am tired — and I know the American people are tired — of the dishonesty in Washington,” he said in a statement. “We’re fed up with the annual budget charade where Washington makes another empty promise to get tough on spending in future years, while spending more today. It’s bankrupting America and it’s got to stop.”

Rep. John Katko (N.Y.) — “This budget fails to address the budget priorities of CNY [Central New York] and it does not provide the realistic means to control long-term spending that I have been seeking,” said Katko. The New York lawmaker will likely face a tough reelection race next year.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (Idaho) — Labrador expressed skepticism about the budget a week before the vote at a conservative event.

“I'm still trying to get to 'yes' because it does set forth a vision for what we should be doing as Republicans,” he said. “The question is, will we actually do the things that the budget requires us to do?”

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) — LoBiondo suggested the budget cut too much, saying he was worried about the impact on his constituents.. “While I remain concerned about the nation’s unsustainable debt, my immediate focus continues to be the critical fiscal needs of the residents in my district,” he said. LoBiondo also voted against last year’s budget.

Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) — "If budgets are aspirational, then Republicans should aspire to balance them. This one will never balance," said Massie about the budget plan in a statement. Massie also voted against the GOP budget last year, calling for more spending cuts.

Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyInvesting in low-emissions energy is the key to the climate crisis OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues Bipartisan lawmakers back clean electricity standard, but fall short of Biden goal MORE (W.Va.) — McKinley praised Price but said the budget didn't address the concerns of rural voters.

“[Price] should be commended for presenting a budget that balances in 10 years, makes necessary reforms, repeals ObamaCare and reduces waste and duplication,” he said. 

“While the House Republican budget includes positive aspects, it also includes some proposals that differ from the priorities of West Virginia’s 1st District and it does not address the growing financial challenges facing rural America,” he added, citing needed infrastructure spending and subsidies to small airports. McKinley voted against last year's budget.

Rep. Martha McSally (Ariz.) — McSally, a former combat pilot and freshman lawmaker, highlighted the need for more defense spending.

“From an extremely sophisticated and well-resourced terrorist group in ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], to Russia’s increased aggression in Europe, China’s continued military build-up, and Iran marching toward a nuclear capability, we face serious and growing threats to our national security,” she said in a statement. “Drastic across-the-board cuts have already devastated many current capabilities and continue to weaken readiness and hollow out our military.”

McSally also hails from a swing state where she'll likely face a tough reelection challenge.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (S.C.) — Mulvaney criticized fellow Republicans for circumventing the 2011 spending caps in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “With fiscal concerns no longer in vogue, House Republicans broke the statutory caps of the Budget Control Act (BCA) and did so in a way that wasn’t honest,” the conservative lawmaker wrote.

Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection We must address the declining rate of startup business launches Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' MORE (Ariz.) — Schweikert cited spending on entitlement programs during the floor debate on Wednesday. "If we do not have phenomenal economic growth, we are not going to be able to keep our promises," he said according to The Arizona Republic. He voted for last year's budget.

Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerProtecting the fundamental right of all Americans to have access to the voting booth Republicans compare Ron Johnson to Joe McCarthy: NYT GOP puts pressure on Pelosi over Swalwell MORE (Wis.)  Sensenbrenner opposed the lack of offsets for the additional defense spending.

This story was updated on March 31 at 12:08 a.m.