WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Wednesday that he would host a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget as a means of forcing moderate GOP senators to weigh in on the legislation’s controversial proposals. He did not provide a specific date for when that vote will take place.
“There will be an opportunity in the Senate to vote on the Ryan budget to see if Republican senators like the Ryan budget as much as the House did,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. “Without going into the Ryan budget we will see how much the Republicans like it here in the Senate.”
Reid, who had been traveling with other senators in China, accused the Ryan plan of fundamentally changing Medicare and burdening health care consumers with uncertainty and higher costs. By holding a vote on the bill -- which his own party will vote against en masse –- the majority leader is hoping to not only drive a wedge within the GOP but keep the Ryan budget in the news.
This past week, protesters have disrupted a number of town hall events hosted by GOP lawmakers, airing their concerns about drastic spending cuts, lower tax rates and changes to Medicare and Medicaid. House Republicans voted to pass the Ryan budget with only three defections. But the legislation always seemed likely to get a far tougher reception among Republicans in the Senate, where moderates Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) are up for re-election in 2012.
Reid said that he wanted to see if Republicans in his chamber would be as supportive of the plan as those in the House. But his hope, he added, was that the Ryan budget would ultimately fail (as is likely to happen in a Democratic-controlled Senate).
"It would be one of the worst things that happened to this country if that thing came into effect," Reid said, of the Ryan budget possibly passing.