High drama unfolded on the House floor Friday when the Republican Study Committee’s budget proposal, an even more conservative alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R., Wis.) 2012 budget, nearly passed after a flurry of parliamentary gamesmanship from House Democrats eager to highlight the difference between their Republican counterparts.
Democrats sat back when the vote began, letting Republicans cast their votes first, before voting “present” by the dozens. Democratic leaders then began urging members who had voted “no” to switch their votes to “present,” leaving it to divided Republicans to decide the budget’s fate.
The tactic clearly flustered the GOP leadership, who rushed to gavel the vote shut while lawmakers shouted at each other across the chamber. Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R., Wash.), Mary Bono Mack (R., Fla.) and David Dreier (R., Calif.) even changed their votes from “yes” to “no.” In the end, the vote failed 119 to 136, with 176 Democrats voting “present,” and Republicans split 119 to 120.
Hoyer later wrote on Twitter: “Dems voting present on RSC budget to highlight GOP divisions, plans to end Medicare – which bdgt does GOP support? Ryan or Ryan on steroids?”
RSC chairman Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) took to Facebook afterwards, writing: “Our Republican Study Committee (RSC) balanced budget came within 18 votes of passing on the House Floor today. I am disappointed we did not win, but this is the closest we have ever been to passing our balanced budget. I am motivated to keep fighting to balance the budget and begin paying down our national debt.”
The House will vote on Paul Ryan’s budget later this afternoon.