The Senate today adopted a GOP budget that paves the way for an assault on President Obama's health care law this summer and a partisan showdown over spending bills this fall. The Senate passed the nonbinding measure by a nearly party-line 51-48 vote; the House adopted it last week. The measure sets a potential path for a balanced budget within a decade. It promises to cut domestic agencies and safety net programs like Medicaid and food stamps, carve up transportation spending and student aid, and curb tax breaks for the poor. The budget plan does not go to Obama, who has promised to veto follow-up spending bills that he says will shortchange domestic programs like student aid, highway construction, and scientific research.
The measure pleases the GOP faithful by setting up a debate this summer that would permit Republicans to pass legislation to repeal Obama's health care law. Senate Democrats would be unable to filibuster the repeal bill under fast-track budget rules, though Obama is certain to veto it. But Republicans have no plans to follow up the budget document's call for other spending cuts with binding legislation that would, for instance, curb Medicare payments to providers, tighten eligibility rules for food stamps, or dump poor and disabled people off the traditional Medicaid program. In the near term, the GOP plan promises a $38 billion, 7% increase for the Pentagon that's possible only by padding war accounts. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both presidential contenders, were the only Republicans who voted against the blueprint.