A Budget Is a Statement of Values. So What Did the House Say about Its Values Today?

As the saying goes, a budget is a statement of values. And members of the House of Representatives had the opportunity to show their values over the past two days in a series of budgetary votes.

This series of votes culminated in the passage of the House Republicans’ budget 219–206.

This budget would cut $5.8 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, education, infrastructure, and other essential services over the next decade and pave the way for the massive tax cuts that Trump wants to give to big corporations and the 1%. Says a lot about the 219 who voted for it, right?

18 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it: Justin Amash (MI-03), Rod Blum (IA-01), Ken Buck (CO-04), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), Ryan Costello (PA-06), Charlie Dent (PA-15), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Walter Jones (NC-03), John Katko (NY-24), Pete King (NY-02), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), Tom Massie (KY-04), Brian Mast (FL-18), David McKinley (WV-01), Pat Meehan (PA-07), Chris Smith (NJ-04), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27).

Many of these NO votes came from representatives in swing districts. But a few of them dissented from the right because the budget wasn’t cruel enough for them.

One can tell who the right-wing dissenters were by looking at the vote of the Republican Study Committee’s hardliner budget. That budget, offered by Tom McClintock (CA-04), failed with a vote of 139 to 281.

Of the 18 NO votes on the final budget, three of them voted for the more conservative RSC budget: Amash, Buck, and Massie.

But of more interest are the three Democratic budget alternatives offered. Each year during the budgetary process, the Democratic Caucus will offer a budget, the Congressional Black Caucus will offer a budget, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus will offer a budget. The total votes that each budget receives follows that order.

It’s a given that Republicans will vote NO on all three. But let’s look at the breakdown within the Democratic Party.

The Democratic budget (“Investing in Our Future”), offered by John Yarmuth (KY-03): 156–32

The Congressional Black Caucus budget, offered by Bobby Scott (VA-03): 130–57

The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget (“People’s Budget”), offered by Raul Grijalva (AZ-03): 108–79

You can click the links to read more into each of the three budgets. The CPC’s budget is, as one would expect, the most ambitious of the three in its broad policy aims. All three would be significantly better than the immoral garbage of the GOP budget.

It would be great to have the entire Democratic Caucus support the People’s Budget, but we aren’t there yet. And the fact that the People’s Budget secured the support of more than half the caucus is still impressive.

But a baseline should be that Democrats support the Democratic budget. The Democratic Party’s budget includes many good things like raising the federal minimum wage, guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and equal pay for equal work, increasing funding for women’s health, closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the rich, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, protecting the safety net (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ACA, etc.) from cuts, protecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from cuts, investing $1 trillion in infrastructure upgrades, among other things.

So why did 32 Democrats vote against their own party’s budget?

This speaks to a simple phenomenon I was thinking about the other day. Republicans don’t care whether their terrible policies are popular and act as though they are. On the flip side, Democrats start from a point of fearing that the public disagrees with them — even when the public overwhelmingly supports their policy proposals. Something could poll at 70%, and Democrats would still act this way. Whereas Republicans would have no qualms about ramming through a policy that polls at 5%.

Now, you shouldn’t be like Republicans — actively seeking to inflict harm and remaining largely indifferent to public opinion. But you shouldn’t see public opinion as something that is fixed or something that is to be afraid of. Embrace the fact when you have popular support on your side, and when you don’t, seek to change that. Stand for something.

People will say they like “independence” and “bipartisanship” if you ask them, but what people want is for Democrats and Republicans to end their partisan bickering and….pass the Progressive Caucus’s budget.

If you vote against every budget offered, you aren’t standing for independence. You’re standing for nothing. Offer your own budget as an alternative.

But I could go on for a while.

So who were the 32 Democrats who voted against the Democratic budget?

Ami Bera (CA-07)

Julia Brownley (CA-26)

Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

Jim Cooper (TN-05)

Jim Costa (CA-16)

Charlie Crist (FL-13)

Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

John Delaney (MD-06)

Bill Foster (IL-11)

Marcia Fudge (OH-11)

Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)

Jim Himes (CT-04)

Ron Kind (WI-03)

Raj Krishnamoorthi (IL-08)

Annie Kuster (NH-02)

Dan Lipinski (IL-03)

Dave Loebsack (IA-02)

Sean Maloney (NY-18)

Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)

Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)

Donald Payne (NJ-10)

Scott Peters (CA-52)

Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Kathleen Rice (NY-04)

Cedric Richmond (LA-02)

Raul Ruiz (CA-36)

Brad Schneider (IL-10)

Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Tom Suozzi (NY-03)

Bennie Thompson (MS-02)

Pete Visclosky (IN-01)

Fudge, Payne, Richmond, and Thompson voted for the Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus budgets, but not the party one. I would be curious why. They aren’t noted left-wing defectors, for instance. And Raj Krishnamoorthi voted for the Black Caucus budget, but not the party budget. Again, not sure why — unless he (falsely) thinks that being able to say he voted against his own party’s budget will help him in his blue district in suburban Chicago.

32 Democrats voted against the party budget, and 57 voted against the CBC budget. Since 5 Democrats voted for the CBC budget but not the party budget, that means 30 of the Democrats who voted for the party budget did not vote for the CBC budget as well.

Here are the 30:

Pete Aguilar (CA-31)

Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)

Salud Carbajal (CA-24)

Lou Correa (CA-46)

Joe Courtney (CT-02)

Susan Davis (CA-53)

Diana DeGette (CO-01)

Suzan DelBene (WA-01)

Ted Deutch (FL-22)

Anna Eshoo (CA-18)

Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)

John Garamendi (CA-03)

Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01)

Bill Keating (MA-09)

Derek Kilmer (WA-06)

Jim Langevin (RI-02)

Sandy Levin (MI-09)

Nita Lowey (NY-17)

Jerry McNerney (CA-09)

Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)

Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)

Jared Polis (CO-02)

Mike Quigley (IL-05)

Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)

Bobby Rush (IL-01)

Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

Darren Soto (FL-09)

Eric Swalwell (CA-15)

Mike Thompson (CA-05)

Norma Torres (CA-35)

I have no idea why Bobby Rush was a NO on the CBC budget. Given that he was a YES on the party budget and the People’s budget, it doesn’t really make sense.

Other than the difference of his vote, there were 23 Democrats who voted YES on the CBC budget but NO on the People’s Budget:

Sanford Bishop (GA-02)

Matt Cartwright (PA-17)

Joaquin Castro (TX-20)

David Cicilline (RI-01)

Gerry Connolly (VA-11)

Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)

Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15)

Gene Green (TX-29)

Denny Heck (WA-10)

Steny Hoyer (MD-05)

Rick Larsen (WA-02)

Joe Larson (CT-01)

Curt Lawson (FL-05)

Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01)

Doris Matsui (CA-06)

Seth Moulton (MA-06)

Richard Neal (MA-01)

Adam Schiff (CA-28)

Terri Sewell (AL-07)

Jackie Speier (CA-14)

Niki Tsongas (MA-03)

Marc Veasey (TX-33)

Tim Walz (MN-01)

Note that Cicilline is a vice chair of the CPC and Cartwright is the Whip. DeLauro, Loebsack, Polis, and Shea-Porter are also *nominally* members.

Seven Democrats, including the entire Nevada delegation and Minority Leader Pelosi, were absent.