U.S. House Republicans narrowly passed a new balanced budget plan from Representative Paul Ryan on Thursday in a vote that will help shape the debate ahead of November’s congressional elections.
The plan authored by Ryan, the influential House Budget Committee chairman, would eliminate deficits within 10 years, due largely to deep cuts to social safety net programs, grants for college students, and research and infrastructure spending. It also seeks to boost defense spending over the next decade without any increase in tax revenues.
The plan, which is not expected to be considered by the Democratic-controlled Senate, passed on a party-line vote of 219 to 205, with 193 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting against it.
The budget will serve largely as a campaign manifesto, highlighting Republicans’ determination to shrink the federal debt, while opening the party up to attacks from Democrats over its proposed cuts.
The U.S. House adopted a budget plan providing a contrast between Democrats and Republicans for the November election that will decide control of Congress.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said the measure, which aims to balance federal spending with revenue within 10 years, would put the U.S. on a path to prosperity. The Republican budget plan would achieve balance in that time, according to the Congressional Budget Office, only under an assumption that it will lead to economic growth.
The measure was adopted, 219-205, today. Every House Democrat and 12 Republicans voted against the budget plan.
“This document is our vision for getting Americans back to work,” Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters today at a news conference.
Democrats said Ryan’s budget, which would reduce spending on social safety-net programs and lower the top income tax rate, would take money away from infrastructure and education, harming the U.S. economy.
Senate Democrats have said they plan to campaign against the Republican budget plan in such states as Louisiana, Colorado and Montana, where party incumbents face challenges from Republican House members.
The measure won’t become law. It was written to comply with a House-Senate deal that caps discretionary spending on defense spending, national parks and other priorities at $1.014 trillion for the 2015 fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The Democratic-led Senate doesn’t plan to consider a budget plan.
“I think people need to take this seriously because it tells Americans what congressional Republicans would do if they had the power to do it,” said Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget panel.
Ryan’s budget tilts toward national security over other federal spending. Domestic programs would be reduced by $791 billion from fiscal 2016 to 2024, while defense spending would be $483 billion more than envisioned under current law, he said.
“We owe the country an alternative, one that actually grows the economy,” pays off the deficit and moves to lower the national debt, Ryan said on the House floor.
His plan would turn food stamps and Medicaid health care for the poor into block-grant programs to the states. Those programs are part of a war on poverty that Ryan has called a failure and said should be turned over to greater state control.
Budgets typically set spending guidelines, while separate appropriations bills direct the spending.
House Appropriators have largely ignored the budget debate. They approved spending bills yesterday on military construction and the Veterans Affairs Department, as well as the legislative branch.