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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The House of Representatives passed Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal Thursday in a 221-207 vote. Ryan’s plan, which would slash federal spending by over $4 trillion while granting a massive tax break to the wealthy, will now advance to the Senate — where it is certain to be shot down by the Democratic majority.

House Democrats unanimously opposed the Ryan plan, and were joined by 10 Republicans: Justin Amash (MI), Paul Broun (GA), Rick Crawford (AR), Randy Forbes (VA), Chris Gibson (NY), Phil Gingrey (GA), Joe Heck (NV), Walter Jones (NC), Tom Massie (KY), and David McKinley (WV). These Republicans had varying reasons for voting no; Broun opposed the bill for not containing harsh enough cuts, while Massey derided the measure as “a pretend vote” due to the Ryan plan’s almost nonexistent chance of becoming law.

Indeed, the Democratic majority in the Senate is almost certain to vote down the Ryan budget, and President Obama would surely veto the bill if it somehow reached his desk. Still, Republicans are celebrating the symbolic passage of Ryan’s “vision document.

“Our goal is to cut spending and balance the budget to help our economy grow,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement after the vote. “Passing this measure allows us to keep our focus where it belongs: replacing the president’s sequester with smarter cuts that help balance the budget, fixing our broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages, protecting priorities like Medicare, and expanding opportunity for all Americans.”

After passing Ryan’s budget, the House departed for a three-week recess. The next House vote is not scheduled until April 9th.

Although Ryan’s budget will not become law, it is sure to remain a top issue through the 2014 midterms. Democrats are planning to aggressively campaign against the controversial plan, which promises to repeal Obamacare, convert Medicare into a voucher program, cut $757 billion from Medicaid by converting the program into block grants for states, and slash an additional $800 million from federal programs such as food stamps, Pell grants, and Supplemental Security Income, among many others. It would also provide a huge tax break to wealthy Americans. Polling shows that these ideas are deeply unpopular, giving Democrats a political opening.

“The Ryan budget will be a gift that gives throughout the 2014 cycle for Democrats,” Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told reporters shortly after Ryan released the plan. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already released a target list of 14 House Republicans who may run for Senate seats in 2014, hoping to use their support of Ryan’s plan against them. There is precedent for this strategy succeeding; Ryan’s previous budget was a major factor in the GOP’s resounding defeats in the 2012 election.

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