Democrats tried to pull a fast one today on Republicans on the House floor, reports Talking Points Memo. Before Paul Ryan's budget blueprint passed, a far more conservative offering from the Republican Study Committee came up for a vote, one that called for much deeper cuts in spending and taxes. It was expected to be routinely defeated, but Democrats began switching their votes from "no" to "present" to lower the threshold needed for passage. The ploy nearly succeeded, a result that would have rendered Ryan's plan dead in the water and saddled the GOP with a political disaster.
Republicans figured it out before the vote finished, however, resulting in unusual House drama, notes the Hill: Democratic whip Steny 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." In the end, enough Republicans switched their votes from "yes" to "no" in time to defeat the measure (119-136, with 176 "present" votes). A Hoyer tweet explained the tactic: "Dems voting present on RSC budget to highlight GOP divisions, plans to end Medicare - which bdgt does GOP support? Ryan or Ryan on steroids?"