WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday went along with a stopgap spending bill that avoids a government shutdown but carries a price tag $19 billion higher than the budget he wrote.
The Wisconsin legislator, who is the Republicans’ vice presidential nominee and top budget writer in the House, planned to vote for a temporary spending bill that lets Congress keep government open for another six months. That allows lawmakers and President Barack Obama to put off dicey budget talks until after the Nov. 6 election.
Politics, though, were not far from Ryan’s first return to Congress since joining Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. He scheduled a closed-door, informal meeting with Republican lawmakers Thursday evening.
Ryan did not plan to deliver remarks on the House floor ahead of the budget vote.
“The fact that a stopgap measure is necessary is another indictment of the president’s failure to lead. While spending should be lower, Ryan will support this legislation to prevent a government shutdown,” Ryan’s campaign spokesman, Brendan Buck, said.
Democrats, meanwhile, worked to highlight components of Ryan’s budget proposals that would fundamentally change seniors’ health care and young voters’ education options. Democrats, including Obama’s re-election campaign, have constantly linked Romney’s presidential campaign with the Ryan-proposed cuts.
“Now there has been a lot of controversy about Mr. Ryan and some of the things he has stated,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said across Capitol Hill. “But perhaps the least credible claim of all about Congressman Ryan is the idea that he’s a serious budget hawk, and that his budget is a serious attempt at deficit reduction. He’s not, and it’s not.
The vote was one of the last major actions lawmakers will take before leaving Washington for the fall campaign. The temporary spending bill was needed to avert a government shutdown when the current budget year expires Sept. 30.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, is expected to pass the spending measure next week.
Thursday’s vote represents a retreat of sorts by tea party House Republicans, who had insisted on no new spending. It was also something of a setback for Ryan, whose austere budget proposal was some $19 billion smaller than the version expected to pass.
Even though it abandons the GOP budget, the six-month spending measure has backing from conservatives who want to avoid the prospect of an omnibus spending bill in the postelection lame duck session and who hope to have greater leverage next year.
The spending measure is the last major piece of pre-election legislation from a Congress that’s been mostly gridlocked from the moment it took the oath of office in January 2011.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.