House Republicans passed their “Cut, Cap and Balance” fiscal plan on Tuesday. This proposal boosts their standing among Tea Party supporters but has no chance of becoming law. The bill passed, 234 to 190, on a largely partisan vote.
Five Democrats, Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Health Shuler (N.C.) and Dan Boren (Okla.) among them, sided with Republicans in passing the measure. Nine Republicans opposed the bill, including Tea Party favorite and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). After the vote Bachmann stated the bill “does not go far enough” and should have included provisions to defund health care reform.
Among other Republican defectors were Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.), Francisco Canseco (Texas), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Connie Mack (Fla.) and Ron Paul (Texas). Ron Paul affirmed that he had never voted for a debt ceiling increase and never will. He stated: “All spending must be deemed discretionary and reexamined by Congress each year. To allow otherwise is pure cowardice.”
Tuesday’s vote comes after weeks of Republicans touting the bill as proof of their commitment to conservative principles. Republicans assert the proposal is just the kind of shot in the arm needed to address the nation’s staggering $14.4 trillion debt.
It calls for cutting more than $100 billion in fiscal 2012 and makes drastic spending cuts in areas that Democrats have prioritized as opportunities for investment: clean energy, infrastructure, education and job training. The biggest concern for However, Democrats is the bill’s proposal to gut Medicaid funding by one-third over the next decade.
Both parties know the bill has next to no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Obama has already threatened a veto. But Republicans have pushed for a record vote on it ahead of the 2012 elections. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) stated: “This bill panders, even grovels, to Tea Party extremists. Thank goodness this bill will never pass the United States Senate. Thank goodness this bill will never become law.”
Republicans countered that their fiscal plan is better than nothing, which is what Democrats have put forward. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the author of the GOP bill, said he would welcome debate on a Democratic alternative if there was one. He said in his statement:”If you could slide it across the table to us, we’d love to see it.”
Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said the debt debate reminded him of a scene from the book Alice in Wonderland, when Alice told the Cheshire Cat she didn’t really care where she went in her travels.
Rep. Todd Young said: “I get the sense my friends on the other side of the aisle don’t really much care where we go.” The measure now heads to the Senate. A senior GOP aide said Senate Republicans are pushing for a vote this week. [Photo via Speaker Boehner/Flickr; via Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and The Blaze]