The House on Wednesday night unanimously rejected an alternative budget proposal based on President Obama's 2013 budget plan, dispatching it in a 0-414 rout.
The vote came just hours after the White House cast the pending vote as a political "gimmick," an apparent attempt to downplay what many expected to be an ugly-looking vote for the White House.
White House officials said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), the sponsor of the alternative, was using Obama's top-line spending and revenue numbers as a budget proposal, without any specifics. On the House floor, Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) agreed that Mulvaney's amendment was not, in fact, Obama's entire budget proposal.
"This is politics at its absolute worst: presenting something as the President's budget without the policy detail, without the explanation to the American people about what's in the President's budget," he said. "And as a result, he presents a very misleading version of what the President has asked us to do."
Mulvaney seemed to relish the idea of bringing up a proposal based on Obama's numbers, and openly wondered, tongue-in-cheek, why no Democrats sought to introduce it. He then criticized it by saying it does not foresee a balanced budget at any point in the future.
"The budget that the President offered and that is contained in this amendment never balances," he said. "It is a balanced approach to reach a never-balancing budget."
Obama's budget plans have a poor track record in Congress over the last year. In May 2011, 97 senators voted against a motion to take up his 2012 budget plan — no senator voted in favor of the motion.
The House also rejected two other budget alternatives Thursday night, including the first Congress has ever considered based on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission. This proposal was hailed by sponsors Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) as the only budget alternative that members of both parties can support.
"This is the only bipartisan budget that the House of Representatives will be able to consider in this budget cycle," Cooper said. "This is the first time that a Bowles-Simpson budget has been allowed on the floor of the House or the Senate. This is an historic night, and I hope that members will appreciate this opportunity."
But the amendment was rejected in a 38-382 vote, matching predictions that it would struggle to find 100 supporters. Only 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted for the alternative, a strong confirmation that there is little appetite in the House for the bipartisan plan.
Before the vote, LaTourette tried to dispel what he said were several myths about how the Bowles-Simpson budget would hurt social programs. "Your pants are on fire," LaTourette said in response to these claims. "And anybody that wants to read about it, come see Mr. Cooper or I, and we will put your pants out."
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) spoke briefly against the bill, and said that while he appreciates people bringing possible solutions to the debate, he opposed the alternative because it kept the 2010 healthcare law in place, and would result in just a few trillion dollars worth of deficit reduction over the next decade, most of which comes from tax increases.
"I just don't like the substance of it," Ryan said.
Also Wednesday night, the House rejected a budget proposal from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which Republicans argued would spend far more money than the federal government has available. Members rejected the CBC alternative by a 107-314 vote, about the same as last year's 103-303 vote on the CBC alternative.
The House will consider several other budget alternatives Thursday, before passing the plan put forward by Ryan.