WASHINGTON — House Republicans rallied behind an austere budget blueprint on Thursday, passing a non-binding but politically imposing measure that promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years with sweeping budget cuts and termination of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The 219-205 vote on the budget outline takes a mostly symbolic swipe at the government’s chronic deficits. Follow-up legislation to actually implement the cuts has not been advanced. Twelve Republicans opposed the measure; not a single Democrat supported it.
The measure passed after a three-day debate that again exposed the hugely varying visions of the rival parties for the nation’s fiscal future. Republicans promised a balanced budget by 2024 but would do so at the expense of poor people and seniors on Medicaid, lower-income workers receiving health care subsidies, and people receiving food stamps and Pell Grants.
Democrats countered with a plan that would leave Obama’s health care plan and rapidly growing health programs such as Medicare intact, relying on $1.5 trillion in tax hikes over the coming decade to bring deficits down to sustainable but still-large levels in the $600 billion range.
The GOP plan, by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, would cut more than $5 trillion over the coming decade to reach balance by 2024, relying on sharp cuts in projected spending to domestic programs, but leaving Social Security untouched, and shifting more money to the Pentagon and health care for veterans. It reprises a controversial plan to shift future retirees away from traditional Medicare and toward a subsidy-based health insurance option on the open market.
Super PAC supporting Clinton raises $1.7m
WASHINGTON — The super PAC urging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president said Thursday it raised $1.7 million in the first three months of the year, almost all of it from small-dollar donors.
But the group had a number of bold-faced names who had given $25,000, including Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Former California Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez, former US trade representative Glen Fukushima, and former Goldman Sachs executive Daniel Neidich also gave the maximum the group accepts.
In all, Ready for Hillary said about 22,000 new donors gave money to the self-designated Clinton support network between Jan. 1 and March 31. The average contribution was $53, and 98 percent of it was $100 or less. The group has been focused on building buzz and collecting data that could be helpful if Clinton decides to run again for the White House.
Pelosi says race has role in GOP immigration stance
WASHINGTON — House minority leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday blamed racial issues for the GOP’s failure to act on immigration legislation.
‘‘I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,’’ the California Democrat said at her weekly press conference. ‘‘I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it were just you, this would be easy.’ ”
Pelosi was responding to a question about whether race factors into how Republicans deal with the Obama administration. She accused Republicans of being generally disrespectful to administration members and to women.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill later clarified that the reported Republican comment about the Irish has been relayed to Pelosi a number of times by Irish immigration activists with whom she has met.
Pelosi’s comments come as frustration grows among immigration activists and the Democratic minority in the House about the refusal of the Republican majority to act on a far-reaching immigration bill passed by the Senate last year. The Senate bill would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants and tighten border security.
Republicans remain wary of a contentious debate on the divisive issue, which could undercut potential electoral gains in the November elections.
Nonetheless there are indications the House could take a small step on immigration. One moderate Republican, Jeff Denham of California, said Thursday he is picking up support for his bill to give young immigrants brought to the country illegally a path to resident status through the military.
Congress votes to bar Iran’s UN envoy from United States
WASHINGTON — Congress denounced Iran’s choice for ambassador to the United Nations, outraged by the prospect of a member of a group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran stepping on US soil. The move forces President Obama to make a decision with serious diplomatic repercussions.
In a rare unanimous vote on Thursday, the House backed a bill that would bar entry to the United States to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism, or a threat to national security. The vote came four days after similar action in the Senate and sends the bill to the White House.
The Obama administration opposes the selection of Hamid Aboutalebi because of his alleged participation in a group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in the 1979 takeover. The State Department indicated Thursday that the issue could be resolved if Tehran withdrew the nomination.