House Republican leadership is scrambling after being unable to pass a major budget bill following defections from numerous members of their own party, RAW STORY has learned. Rank-and-file Republicans are upset at the extent of spending cuts in the bill.
Earlier this year, the House Republican leadership had passed a budget which enjoined lawmakers to cut spending by $35 billion while retaining $70 billion in tax cuts. The proposed budget would have cut spending by $50 billion, while retaining tax cuts.
Republicans huddled for five hours before deciding to take up the measure next week, the Associated Press reported.
"We weren't quite ready to go to the floor," Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters. "I think we'll have the votes next week."
Democrats are cheering the budget's failure, saying that it gives away money to the wealthiest Americans. They also say the fact that Republicans can't get members of their own party to vote for it is testament to "how bad the bill is."
Stacey Farnen Bernards, spokeswoman for Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), said, "I think its evidence of how bad the bill is that they cannot get their members to support it. And you can be sure they pulled out all the stops and offered their members the moon... and nothing worked."
"Democrats are 100 percent unified" against the bill, she said. "It creates another $20 billion in deficits and theyíre not going to find any Democrats who support that."
Itís not clear exactly what the next step is. The Republican leadership is expected to rewrite the bill and bring it to the floor again next week.
Already, GOP leaders took out provisions that would have opened the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. At the time of this writing, it was unclear what specific provisions individual Republican members were opposing.
The Washington Post wrote today, "Republicans concede they are well short of the votes needed to pass a bill that would require longer work hours to qualify for welfare, allow states to impose new costs on Medicaid beneficiaries, cut assistance for child support enforcement, trim student loan spending, cut back agriculture supports, and curb eligibility for food stamps."
"They are a long way away from getting the votes," Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) told the Post. "Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, whatever -- for every person, there's an issue."
MORE -- THIS JUST IN FROM ROLL CALL: "House GOP leaders suffered an embarrassing setback to their reconciliation plans Thursday afternoon, as they were forced to postpone a vote on their $50 billion-plus budget package after being unable to muster 218 votes.
"In a hastily arranged press conference just before 4 p.m., GOP leaders initially blamed schedule problems for their decision, saying they could not put off the vote any longer given Fridayís holiday.
"Republican vote-counters hoped they had secured the last measure of support necessary for passage Wednesday night, when they stripped from the reconciliation bill provisions permitting oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and drilling in the outer continental shelf.
"Those concessions apparently did not yield enough yes votes from recalcitrant moderates and also had the effect of angering pro-ANWR lawmakers, including Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (Calif.), who called an emergency session of his panelís members Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue."