Cut, Cap and Balance passes the House
While House Republicans fell short of the votes needed to pass the Balanced Budget Amendment (the Constitution requires 2/3 to pass an amendment), they did manage to pass the core of the plan by a vote of 234 to 190:
House Republicans on Tuesday approved an ambitious but legislatively ill-fated plan to enact deep spending restraints that could clear the decks for a compromise over the debt limit.
The so-called “cut, cap and balance” measure passed on a party-line vote, 234-190, as nine Republicans and five Democrats defected. Democrats excoriated the GOP for advancing the bill, which the White House has threatened to veto.
House Republicans reacted hesitantly to the “Gang of Six” plan, saying they had yet to see the details and were focused on their own proposal, which conditions a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling on $111 billion in immediate cuts, an annual cap on spending, and congressional passage of a balanced-budget amendment.
Even as the GOP brought the “cut, cap and balance” legislation to the floor, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said party leaders in the lower chamber had begun discussions over a “Plan B” to increase the debt ceiling by the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline if a broad agreement wasn’t possible.
You can view the roll call vote here.
“Cut, Cap and Balance” had become a rallying point for conservatives during the stalemate over the debt ceiling. And while it may have been better than other alternatives, it still didn’t deal with the very real issues that are causing the problem, as noted by Peter Suderman over at Reason:
[A] spending cap that quietly exempts Medicare, Social Security, military health care (which has also been beset by exploding costs in recent years) seems awful convenient, and unlikely to be all that effective in the long run.
No matter what, its prospects for passage are minimal: House Speaker John Boehner seems interested in the bill only as a way to placate conservatives: At a Friday news conference, he didn’t exactly offer a full-throated defense of the bill. “The cut, cap and balance plan that the House will vote on next week is a solid plan for moving forward. Let’s get through that vote, and then we’ll make decisions about what will come after,” he said, according to The Huffington Post.
These are among the reasons that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, came out against the plan.
We’ll have more on the plan pushed by Gang of Six in a bit.