Republicans Offer Obama Budget — Set-up for Failed Shutout

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In line to purchase copies of President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget at the Government Printing Office bookstore in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

Updated at 5:50 pm EDT

President Barack Obama can’t offer his own amendment to the House Republican budget, so South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney has helpfully assistED.

The result was sure to be a resounding defeat of an amendment intended to stand in for the president’s budget on the House floor. Mulvaney wasn’t going to vote for it. Neither were House Democrats, who sent around a memo urging their members to oppose it too.

The result of all that could have been headlines like these from 2012:

“0-414 vote: House clobbers budget proposal based on Obama’s 2013 plan”
— The Hill

“Obama budget defeated 99-0 in Senate”
— The Washington Times


Headlines averted: The vote was 413-2.

A couple of Democrats spared Obama the embarrassment of another shutout: Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Jim Moran of Virginia.

Democrats called the whole thing a cynical move, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told his caucus to oppose it. If they really wanted a debate, he argued, Republicans would’ve set aside more than 20 minutes of floor time to discuss it.

“This House Republican amendment is not about enacting the president’s budget — it is a political stunt designed to distract from the deep damage that the House Republican Budget Resolution would do,” OMB spokesman Steve Posner said in an e-mailed statement.

The White House “would welcome votes on the actual provisions” of Obama’s budget, Posner said, rejecting the idea that the amendment on Obama’s budget was such a vote. “That is not what this amendment represents, and a vote for or against this amendment is not a vote for or against the president’s policies.”

Mulvaney spokeswoman Stephanie Faile maintains that the amendment is “exactly the president’s budget this year.” It included all the mandatory spending programs and referencing policy provisions contained in Obama’s budget proposal, she said.

The White House and Democrats were urging support of an amendment from Van Hollen of Maryland — the House Democrats’ budget instead.

It’s one of a small army of budget alternatives the House would consider — there are others from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Republican Study Committee, which  all probably will fail too.

None, though, generate the attention of Obama’s own.

“Why wouldn’t the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee support President Obama’s budget, and urge others to support it?” Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, asked in an e-mail.

This is all deep inside baseball, sure — but it once again leaves Democrats in an annual scramble to explain what may be yet another shutout.

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