Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget passed by the House with 10 Republican defections

The Republican-led House approved Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan on Thursday by a 228-191 vote, as 10 GOP lawmakers defected and not one Democrat backed the measure.

The passage of the Ryan’s blueprint represented a significant political victory for House GOP leaders, who have struggled to pass high-profile legislation in recent months. Democrats ripped Ryan’s resolution, claiming it would end Medicare “as we know it” and predicting it would backfire on the GOP this fall.

This year’s vote was by a narrower margin than the 2011 vote that passed Ryan’s budget 235-193. Four Republicans bucked their party last year.

{mosads}An increase in Republican “no” votes was expected this year, as many have grown frustrated with the party’s inability to achieve more aggressive budget savings, due in large part to opposition in the Democratic-led Senate and the White House.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed to address that frustration indirectly on Thursday as he praised Ryan for putting forward a budget that represents a real vision of what we were to do if we get more control here in this town.”

“It’s still a Democrat-run town,” he added.

Republicans voting against the Ryan budget were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Joe Barton (Texas), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Todd Platts (Pa.), Denny Rehberg (Mont.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.).

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Seeking votes, Ryan and other Republican leaders earlier this month opted to lower the spending caps that were detailed in last year’s deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Democrats cried foul, claiming Republicans were breaking a deal they signed off on. GOP appropriators also grumbled, saying it would be difficult to pass appropriations bills with the lower figures. However, Rehberg was the only Republican appropriator who rejected Ryan’s budget on Thursday. Rehberg, who heads the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations subcommittee, is seeking to defeat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) this fall.

Last year, Jones, McKinley and Rehberg voted against the Ryan budget, along with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Paul, a hopeful in the GOP presidential primary, was not present to vote on the budget this time around.

The GOP budget plan again draws a clear contrast between Republicans, who are looking reduce the deficit almost entirely through cuts to federal spending, and Democrats, who continue to push for a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Republicans spent Wednesday and Thursday arguing that the country is mired in a debt and deficit crisis that demands a serious response.

“We are ceding our sovereignty and our ability to control our own destiny as a country when we have to hope that other countries will lend us money,” Ryan said Wednesday. “We’ve got to get this under control.”

“If we don’t tackle these debt problems soon, they’re going to tackle us as a country,” the Budget Committee chairman added.

Ryan’s budget would cut more than $5 trillion more than President Obama’s proposal, reduce spending in 2013 and 2014 compared to 2012, and revive his proposal last year to turn Medicare into a health insurance supplement program for anyone younger than 55.

Ryan’s proposal is more aggressive than Democratic-led budget alternatives that the House rejected Wednesday and Thursday, some of which he disregarded as leaning too heavily on tax increases to reduce the deficit. At the same time, it is not as aggressive as the Republican Study Committee budget, which also failed.

Ryan said after the vote that the budget now presents voters with a choice in November. “Now they have two very crystal clear paths from which to choose,” he said.

Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget. He said that far from being a hindrance to the GOP nominee, the budget will boost his campaign because it will honestly show what the GOP will do if given the full reins of power in Congress.

“People deserve to be spoken to like adults,” Ryan said.

Asked about whether the strong vote marks the end of squabbling in the GOP conference, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said healthy debate will continue.

“I think it is very healthy that we debate the issues,” he said.

The passage of the measure represented a victory for McCarthy, who has struggled to find 218 votes to pass Boehner’s long-stalled transportation bill.

Democrats protested the Ryan budget throughout the entire process, warning that it would cut too deeply into critical federal programs. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) ripped the Ryan budget on the House floor.

“Tragically, the product we will produce today is far less than the sum of our parts in this body,” he said. “It is, I would suggest to you, a product unworthy of the intellect that has been applied to it.

“It is a product, indeed, that I think will hurt America, not help America. It is a product that is too much politics and too little policy. It is a product of which I think this House cannot be proud.”

“It is a recipe for national stagnation and decline,” Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Wednesday. “It retreats from our national goal of out-educating, out-building, out-competing the rest of the world.”

Just before the final vote, the House rejected a mainstream Democratic budget alternative from Van Hollen  163-262, very close to the 166-259 margin seen in 2011 on Van Hollen’s budget.

The 23 Democratic votes against the Van Hollen amendment is the same total as last year. Liberal Democrats for the most part were able to bury their reservations about the spending cuts in the August debt deal in order to back a budget based on those cuts.

Democratic opponents included most of the Blue Dog Coalition, like Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) as well as some liberals like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

— Erik Wasson and Russell Berman contributed to this article, which was updated at 6:05 p.m.

Tags Boehner David McKinley Ed Whitfield John Boehner Jon Tester Justin Amash Paul Ryan

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