Budget backed by GOP leaders prevails

Greg Nash

The House on Wednesday backed a modified budget with a funding boost for the Pentagon, setting the stage for final passage of the fiscal blueprint preferred by Republican leadership.

Adoption of the amendment fell largely along party lines by a vote of 219-208. Twenty-six Republicans voted against it, along with every Democrat.

{mosads}Shortly before that vote, the House defeated a different version of the budget with less defense spending by a vote of 105-319.

But both budgets were considered under an obscure House rule known as “Queen-of-the-Hill,” which stipulates that whichever amendment accrues the most affirmative votes, wins.

Since the version with extra defense funding had more votes, it prevailed over the original budget crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.).

The House will now move to a final vote to approve the budget resolution.

The final version of the budget lawmakers will now vote on would increase funding for the Pentagon’s war fund, also known as overseas contingency operations (OCO), from $94 billion to $96 billion. That’s far above the Obama administration’s $58 billion request.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) argued that Congress shouldn’t authorize less than the minimum funding level requested by the Pentagon.

“It is important for the House and especially important for the commander in chief to fully fund our military without conditions and not trying to use it as leverage for other parts of his political agenda,” Thornberry said.

Defense hawks last week had balked at the amount of funding in the original budget resolution. When GOP leaders were unable to advance an amendment increasing OCO funding during the markup, they chose to resolve the issue on the floor.

The stumble in last week’s markup led to Wednesday’s unusual face-off between dueling versions of the budget.

Earlier Wednesday, the House rejected three liberal budget alternatives from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and House Democrats. The House also voted down the conservative Republican Study Committee budget, which would balance in five years, nearly half the time as the official GOP budget.

Final passage of the budget would represent one of the few victories so far for Republican leaders after a bumpy start to the year that included the standoff over Homeland Security funding.

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