The House of Representatives has passed the first Republican joint Congressional budget in a decade on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The budget passed with a vote of 226-197 mostly along party lines, but with 14 Republicans voting with the Democrats against the bill. The joint budget was first unveiled on Wednesday, April 29 after the House and Senate GOP reconciled the differences between their two budgets blueprints.
For Congressional Republicans the budget moving forward is a victory. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH was pleased at the progress in the House, saying, “We’ve got a lot left to do, but we’re listening to the American people and we’re getting things done.” House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) expressed after the bill passed, “We are set to adopt the first balanced budget of this kind in over a decade. The American people can’t live on borrowed money. The federal government ought not to do so either.”
According to the Hill, the following Republicans voted against the budget, “Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), John Duncan (Tenn.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), David Jolly (Fla.), Walter Jones (N.C.), John Katko (N.Y.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Ryan Zinke (Mont.).” Despite the token Republican opposition, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY said the GOP Senate is set to pass the budget next week.
The 10-year $5 billion dollar budget blueprint balances the budget in a decade, increases defense spending, cuts social welfare programs and gets rid of Obamacare. The bill faced difficulties reconciling between the defense and fiscal hawks, because of increase of $90 billion in defense spending. The bill however, extensively cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. For 2016 defense spending would be $523 billion with domestic programs capped at $493 billion.
The GOP plans to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation, using a plurality of only 51 votes in the Senate. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any bill that repeals his Affordable Care Act, healthcare law, which will lead to a fight over the law repeal. President Obama however, cannot veto the budget as it “is not a law and is non-binding”
Democratic Congressional leadership has let their opposition known on Monday, April 27 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV especially criticized the GOP’s decision to repeal Obamacare, “It says a lot about their inability to govern, and quite frankly, their grasp upon reality, that Republicans refuse to acknowledge the facts.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. remarked after the bill passed, “The budget continues Republicans’ quest to empower special interest on the backs of hardworking American families. It is entirely inadequate to meet America’s needs.”
The blueprint however, will be difficult for Republicans to pass for the 2016 budget; it faces opposition from Congressional Democrats and President Obama to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) realizes “It’s going to be tough to pass these bills.” The House Republicans already have had to postpone the vote on their first bill on Wednesday for funding the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Republican Congressional leadership has promised effective government with no threats or government shutdown, the showdown over the 2016 budget will challenge that promise.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.