by Charles Lemos, Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 02:44:36 PM EDT
The United States House of Representatives descended into chaos as Democrats refused to provide political cover to conservative GOP members over a proposal by conservative Republicans to make deeper cuts to spending and tax rates than those proposed in the official Republican budget, Rep. Paul Ryan's Path to Perdition. In last minute maneuvering by the Democratic leadership, the Democrats changed their votes from no to present sending the GOP leadership into full panic mode.
The Democrats had sought to hang an albatross around the necks of the GOP by having the House pass the Tea Party backed Republican Study Committee's (RSC) budget alternative which House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland termed "Ryan of Steroids." With 176 Democrats switching their votes from no to present, the Republican Study Committee's (RSC) budget alternative, which envisions even deeper tax cuts for the wealthy and more draconian spending cut including severe entitlement rollbacks, suddenly had a majority of GOP votes forcing the GOP leadership to find members to quickly switch their yes votes to no votes.
In the end, the RSC budget went down by a small margin, 119-136.
From The Hill:
In a chaotic scene filled with shouting more typical of that which takes place in the British Parliament, the Republican Study Committee's (RSC) alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2012 budget went down in a 119-136 vote.
It was gaveled shut only after Democratic leaders started pushing members to switch their "no" votes to "present," in order to force a face-off between conservatives and the Republican leadership. A total of 176 lawmakers voted "present."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said 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?"
Hoyer and Ryan could both be observed yelling on the House floor, with Hoyer shouting to his members to vote present and Ryan shouting for the vote to be gaveled closed.
Members of the Republican leadership flipped their votes in the closing moments of the proposal to help fell the proposal. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) switched her vote from yes to no at the last minute, as did Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Rules Committee.
There was last-minute drama in the vote over the conservative proposal, as a number of liberal Democrats flipped their votes from "no" to "present." Lawmakers loudly protested as Republicans tried to gavel the vote shut before more votes could be switched.
By refusing to provide political cover to extremists, the Democrats have exposed deep fissures in the GOP. For a number of Republicans being forced to vote against the Ryan on Steroids budget all but ensures primary challenges from the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Kudos to Steny Hoyer and the Democrats for a well-played parliamentary maneuver.
The Huffington Post has the video: