The House passed the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., by a vote of 235 to 193 Friday afternoon, but an alternative budget with deeper spending cuts nearly beat Ryan's budget to the punch, all because of a Democratic voting maneuver.
A budget offered by Reps. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the most conservative bloc of GOPers in the House, was one of several budget proposals brought to the floor for debate. But obviously, only the most conservative members would vote for it. Democrats would vote against it as would moderate Republicans, keeping it from passing the House.
The RSC budget was prevailing during its vote, but then a staggering number of Democrats started to vote "present." This means they are not voting yea, but more importantly, they are not voting nay, which, ironically the GOP leadership needed in order to get past the RSC budget and advance to the Ryan one.
If the RSC budget had passed first, it would have completely blown out Ryan's budget that we've heard so much about in recent and halted the process in its tracks.
"If you put the budget on the floor, you ought to be able to live with it," House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., told FOX News.
"They made the decision to put this substitute up in order to give some of their members a chance to go home and boast about it, we just decided not to assist them with it."Why did Democrats do this? The RSC Budget was offered as what's called a "substitute." This is where you take out the underlying text of a bill or resolution (in this case, the draft from Paul Ryan) and insert completely new text as a stand-alone bill.
If adopted in place of Ryan's plan, this would make the ultra-deep RSC budget the budget the GOP adopted for the year, slicing off Ryan at the knees. In addition, Democrats could go home and talk about how "radical" and "Draconian" the Republicans were, voting for such cuts.
But conservative Republicans saw a glimmer of hope that their budget could pass.
"It was looking really good," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J. "This is good sign going forward. For one brief shining moment, I thought the RSC budget would be the budget for the House."
In the end the vote looked like this:
Yeas: 119Nays: 136Present: 172
Rarely if ever does Capitol Hill, see so many "present" votes on a given issue.
The vote was held open as dozens upon dozens of Democrats came down into the well of the House to change their vote from nay to present, thus diminishing the margin the GOP had to work with.
Had all Democrats eventually voted present, the RSC budget would have prevailed. And with a margin of only 17votes between the Yeas and Nays, a switch of just nine more members would have made it the operative budget for Fiscal Year '12.
Below is a timeline of Friday's budget votes:
UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. -- The House has passed the budget plan offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., by a vote of 235 to 193.
UPDATE: 1:19 p.m. -- House debate on the Ryan budget proposal has been interrupted several times by protesters in the House gallery. Fox News has learned that there have been nine arrests and U.S. Capitol Police say there may be more.
"We just want our government to protect our Earth," one of the protesters said as she was being arrested.
Also, some are singing the national anthem.
UPDATE: 1:13 p.m. -- The House has defeated Democratic alternative budget by a vote of 259 to 166.
Now a short floor debate begins on the plan offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., followed by a final vote on his plan.
UPDATE: 11:59 a.m. - The House has defeated the alternative budget offered by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the most conservative bloc of GOPers in the House after 172 Democrats voted "present." There were 119 yeas and 136 nays.
UPDATE: 11:37 a.m. -- The House is now voting on the Republican Study Committee budget.
UPDATE: 11:27 a.m. -- The House is voting on two more alternative budgets.
First up is the Progressive Caucus Budget, then comes the budget from the Republican Study Committee.
The RSC budget is what's called a "substitute," meaning if the House adopts it, they completely insert the text of the RSC budget, in lieu of the plan offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. A vote where the RSC budget wins (meaning it gets 217 votes) halts the entire process BEFORE they get to Ryan's budget and the RSC budget becomes the one they adopt.
9:47 a.m. -- The House of Representatives defeated the first budget alternative Friday morning, offered by the Congressional Black Caucus.The vote was 303-103.
Next comes debate on the budget offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with a vote later in the morning.
FOX News producer Wes Barrett contributed to this report.