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The Nation

Budget Passes House With No GOP Votes

John Nichols

Neel Kashkari, acting interim assistant Treasury Secretary for financial stability, right, is greeted on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2009, by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, prior to testifying before the House Domestic Policy subcommittee hearing on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The House gave President Obama the budget he asked for Thursday, voting 233-196 for the $3.6 trillion plan that includes a deficit of $1.2 trillion.

No Republicans backed the budget plan, which ramps up domestic spending, increases taxes on the wealthy and funds Obama's ambitious health care, energy and education proposals. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not apologizing for the breakdown of bipartisanship.

"The American people want us to find our common ground where we can, but they did not send us here to split the difference," Pelosi said. "They want real change, and we have come here to make a difference."

While the budget was dismissed as a "road map to disaster" by House Republican leader John Boehner, of Ohio, it also disappointed liberals who wanted to see less defense spending and more investment in economic and social renewal at home.

After progressive alternatives advanced by California Democrats Barbara Lee and members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Lynn Woolsey and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus were dismissed by margins of 318-113 and 348-84, respectively, the House rejected Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's tax-cuts-for-the-rich plan on a 293-137 split. (Thirty-eight Republicans, 21 percent of the party's House caucus, joined 255 Democrats in voting "no" on Ryan's plan.)

In the final vote on the budget, all 233 supporters of the budget were Democrats.

Of the 196 "nays," 176 came from Republicans and twenty from Democrats.

Most of the dissenting Democrats were southern and western members of the conservative "Blue Dog" grouping. But one of the House's most progressive members, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, also voted "no."

Said Kucinich: This budget is a statement of principles for the upcoming year, and I cannot accept it in its entirety. I will not vote for a budget that ties military spending to the operational funding of our government. This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding. The Washington Post reports today another 10,000 troops may be sent to Afghanistan, bringing our total number of troops there to as much as 78,000 by 2010 -- a more than 100% increase from today's troop levels. This budget is a plan that authorizes the expansion of the war. I simply cannot endorse a budget or a plan that sends more of our brave men and women to Afghanistan, a conflict which has the potential to become this generation's Vietnam."

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