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Democrats Vote 'Present' in Effort to Stymie Paul Ryan's Budget UPDATE

12:30 PM, Apr 15, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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While all of the attention has understandably focused on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget versus the President's "framework" -- that's not really a budget but wants to be taken as such -- there are actually a number of budgets floating around Capitol Hill. Democrats have the "People's Budget" from the Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus has put forward a budget and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.,  has put forth a budget as well. (Ryan actually credited Van Hollen for doing the hard work to put forth a serious budget proposal during his response to the President's budget yesterday.)

Paul Ryan

On the Republican side, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) also has a budget proposal. The RSC's budget just came up for a vote and in the House, and it failed by the curious tally of 119 - 136, with 172 Democrats voting "present."

Why? By voting "present," Democrats hoped to bring pass threshold down so RSC substitute passed, and Ryan budget would not come up. The RSC budget has no hope of passing the Senate. It would have been a smart tactic had it worked, but it also seems clear that the Democrats do not want to have to debate the specifics of the Ryan budget and would rather demogogue Republicans for passing budget solutions that will gain no traction among moderate senate Democrats.

UPDATE -- it appears that this Democratic tactic was accompanied by a lot of drama:

Hoyer and Ryan could both be observed yelling on the House floor, with Hoyer shouting to his members to vote present and Ryan shouting for the vote to be gaveled closed.

Members of the Republican leadership flipped their votes in the closing moments of the proposal to help fell the proposal. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) switched her vote from yes to no at the last minute, as did Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Rules Committee.

There was last-minute drama in the vote over the conservative proposal, as a number of liberal Democrats flipped their votes from "no" to "present." Lawmakers loudly protested as Republicans tried to gavel the vote shut before more votes could be switched.

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