Despite efforts by Republicans to lure conservative Democrats away from support of President Barack Obama's proposed budget, leading House Democrats predict they won't lose many votes.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he expects strong Democratic support for Obama's budget, as put forward with some modifications by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.
We're not divided, he said. You're going to see a unity of purpose, a unity of commitment on the Democratic side.
Hoyer acknowledged that several caucuses among the party would likely put forward additional adjustments and alternative spending plans, but he said that those groups would ultimately rally around the final budget.
It sets forth our priorities. It sets forth our focus and it sets forth our commitment, he said. We promised that we would that we would address the challenges confronting our nation. The nation's voters have turned out and elected us.
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-S.C., a leading member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who have frequently objected to ballooning federal budget deficits, said he thought that few members of that group would ultimately vote against the budget because it represents an effort to return to accurate accounting for federal expenditures.
The lack of transparency and dishonesty in budgets both in the business world and in government has put us in the mess that we're in today, he said. We now have a budget that's an honest assessment of where we are. And if we have that honest assessment we know how to get out of the mess that we're in. We can fix the problems that we're fixing.
He added, Yeah, it's ugly. But it's an honest assessment.
Shuler added that he and other Blue Dogs could take pride in the limits to non-defense discretionary spending, ensuring that health care reform would not add to the budget deficit and enshrining in law House rules that spending increases must be offset by tax increases or cuts to other programs, known ad pay-go.
This budget allows us to have an open and honest discussion about the future or health care in America, he said. It makes sure that we'll have statutory pay-go as we move forward.
But because of regional differences, Shuler did predict that some Blue Dogs would ultimately vote against the budget - though not in sufficient numbers to threaten its passage.
With the Blue Dogs its hard for anything that comes under regular order, regular session [to have] all of our Blue Dogs to vote on anything consistently, he said. It's because of geographic locations specific to one's location.
He added that he thinks a good number of Blue Dogs will back the proposal.
How do we get out of the debt and the deficit that we're in, he asked rhetorically. My answer to that is, we have a plan. We have a structure to move forward and work to get us out of the problems we have had handed to us. We are taking that responsibility moving forward.
He added, Cutting [the deficit] by 2013 by two-thirds. That is moving forward. Is it where we would like to be? No. But it is a plan for us now, as Blue Dogs in the majority. There will be other opportunities to go in and be able to cut spending in other areas.
A vote on the budget is expected in the House on Thursday.
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