After the House passed Paul Ryan’s far-right budget plan, the blueprint was sent to the Senate, where it obviously had no chance of success. Indeed, for the last two weeks, plenty of Republicans in the upper chamber publicly said they saw no point in even bothering with it.
Of course, their concern was not about wasting time, but rather, being forced to vote up or down on a proposal that ends Medicare, slashes social investments, and gives millionaires another massive tax break. It’s why, when the Ryan plan reached the Senate floor last night, it wasn’t Republicans championing their own party’s vision, it was Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) demanding her colleagues go on the record, either supporting or opposing the House plan.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) voted with Democrats against Ryan’s plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a prospective 2016 GOP presidential nominee, voted for Ryan’s budget.
“Enough is enough. Republicans received a vote on their extreme proposal; now that it has failed once more, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats to enact a budget that reflects our values of fairness and opportunity for all,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the vote.
For Democrats, either outcome was a victory. If Senate Republicans voted for the House GOP budget en masse, Dems would use it against them in the 2014 midterms and cite this as an example of widespread radicalism within the party. If Senate Republicans balked, Dems would be able to boast that Paul Ryan’s vision is so far from the mainstream, it generated bipartisan opposition in both chambers of Congress.
Murray seemed to enjoy twisting the knife a little, almost mocking her GOP colleagues: “There seemed to be some resistance among my Republican colleagues in bringing up the House Republican budget for a vote. And it’s pretty easy to see why that is. The House Republican approach has been thoroughly reviewed and just as thoroughly rejected by the American people.”
To provide a little more context, I should also note that, in recent weeks, competing budget plans have been released by House Republicans, Senate Democrats, House Democrats, the Republican Study Committee, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The only major caucus not to release its own budget plan? Senate Republicans.