During floor debate Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the Spending Reduction Act “cuts $236 billion over the next 10 years in net spending cuts to pay for one year of the sequester,” thus setting aside for one year “the sequester on defense and nondefense discretionary spending.”
Ryan, Boehner and other Republican leaders knew this was a charade as Slaughter had claimed. And although the Spending Reduction Act passed the House on Thursday by a 215-to-209 vote with only Republican support, it did not get Boehner the help he needed.
Plan B died because it was a highly partisan measure and Boehner would not bring to the House floor such a bill that did not have enough Republican votes for final passage. Since there are 241 GOP members and 218 votes are needed for passage, if 24 Republicans oppose a measure, particularly one involving spending or increased revenue, the general practice has been that the Republican leadership will not bring it to the floor.
Unless that practice changes, this country will surely go over the “fiscal cliff” at the end of this month. The nation will face an even tougher new year if House Republicans continue only to allow controversial measures to reach the floor that have Republican votes for passage because in the next Congress only 17 GOP defecting members can deny a Republican speaker that majority floor vote. That all but guarantees, for example, there will be a need for Democratic votes to pass an increase in the debt limit next February.
On a different note, I want to thank Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for a pre-Christmas present. During the Dec. 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on the Benghazi, Libya, raid, Boxer noted that funds for diplomatic security for 2012 were $200 million short because of congressional cuts. She then noted, “I love military bands; as a matter of fact I always go to [their] concerts.”
But, she added, a House amendment to cut $200 million from military bands failed, leaving spending for them at $388 million.
The senator’s point, and mine in raising military bands again, is “we need to get our priorities straight.”