What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : (H.R. 2920) On the Ryan of Wisconsin amendment to the “Pay-As-You-Go” Act; the amendment would have imposed limits on spending increases and total federal spending that would be determined by the rate of inflation and by the level of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (2009 house Roll Call 610)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
(H.R. 2920) On the Ryan of Wisconsin amendment to the “Pay-As-You-Go” Act; the amendment would have imposed limits on spending increases and total federal spending that would be determined by the rate of inflation and by the level of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product
house Roll Call 610     Jul 22, 2009
Member's Vote
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or not)
Progressive Position
Progressive Result
(win or loss)

The “Pay-As-You-Go” Act, as it was being debated, required that any change in the law reducing revenues or increasing spending be offset by other changes making up for the reduced revenue or increased spending. This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Ryan (R-WI) that would have significantly changed the terms of the measure. The approach of the Ryan Amendment was to cap all discretionary spending increases at the same percentage as the inflation rate, and to cap total spending at a designated percentage of the Gross Domestic Product. Ryan described the basis of his proposal as relating the federal budget directly to the size and capacity of the economy.

 In his remarks in support of the amendment, Ryan said it was his goal “to keep the size of the federal government relative to where it has been in history, and no larger, meaning don't let the government grow faster than the economy. Don't let the government grow faster than our constituents have an ability to pay for it . . . we keep spending historically where it has been, slightly above 20 percent of gross domestic product. “ He contrasted that approach with the one in the Pay-As-You-Go Act, which, he claimed “allows spending to grow far in excess of where it has been before, meaning . . . it locks in place the growth of the Federal Government so that it will grow faster and higher than it ever has . . . .”

Rep. Spratt (D-SC), the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, opposed the amendment. He said, under its terms, Congress would have to “rewrite the budget resolution, which we wrote and passed in both the House and Senate months ago, to go back to square one and basically begin all over again . . . go back and take at least $48 billion out of all those bills to comply with the numbers that Mr. Ryan proposes . . . .”

Spratt also criticized the way the Ryan Amendment calculated what would be allowable spending. Spratt said those calculations were too complicated, and that the language of the amendment did not actually impose a cap on spending. He also opposed the amendment because it required a two-thirds vote in each House to overcome any spending caps it set. Spratt suggested that changes in the cap numbers would be necessary “if we had a downturn in the economy”, but that a two-thirds vote would be very difficult to obtain. Ryan responded by saying that “we want to make it very difficult for Congress to avoid this budget discipline.”

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 169-259. One hundred and sixty-four Republicans and five Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-seven Democrats and twelve Republicans vote “nay”. As a result, the caps on spending proposed in the Ryan Amendment were not added to the “Pay-As-You-Go” Act.

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Key: Y=Yea, N=Nay, W=Win, L=Loss