Democrats try and fail to force passage of conservative GOP budget plan

March 20, 2013

Hundreds of House Democrats voted "present" Wednesday on a conservative budget proposal in hopes of prompting passage of the spending plan with Republican votes.

But the proposal failed on a vote of 104 to 132, with 171 lawmakers voting "present."

The spending plan, drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee, would balance the federal budget in four years -- a more aggressive course of action than the main House GOP budget plan slated for a vote Thursday.

The RSC plan would balance the federal budget in four years by cutting taxes for top earners, overhauling Medicare, repealing the 2010 health-care reform law and cutting  non-defense discretionary spending by $1.7 trillion below spending caps set during 2011 negotiations over the debt ceiling.

Ahead of the vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) advised his Democratic colleagues to vote present. "Voting 'present' takes Democrats out of the equation so the American people can see just how extreme the Republican conference truly is," Hoyer's office said in a statement.

The RSC is comprised of dozens of the most conservative House Republicans. Several of the group's members are expected to vote against the budget drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which is slated for a vote Thursday.

Democrats have tried and failed in the past to force the passage of the conservative budget proposal. In 2011, 172 House Democrats voted "present" on an RSC budget plan that failed 119 to 136.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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