Budget Fight Gets Symbolic in the Senate

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a plan for budget legislation. Or rather, he has a plan to get the Senate to vote on legislation he doesn't want to pass. He announced Wednesday he would force Republicans to actually vote on the 2012 budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House. That way GOP senators would have to actually say whether they supported the bill, which calls for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid. The gamesmanship is to get Republicans on the record for supporting the major changes in Medicare and Medicaid, or expose disunity among Republicans.

But now the Republicans have a response and it doesn't involve trying to actually pass a budget, either. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Thursday the Senate will vote on President Obama's budget bill, which cuts far less in spending and could hurt Democrats with voters eager to see the budget trimmed, The Hill's Jordan Fabian reports. 

Both votes will be entirely symbolic, the National Review's Andrew Stiles notes. Neither has a chance of passing. Stiles notes that Reid wants a "purely political vote" on a GOP budget that has passed while Democrats have failed to even introduce their own budget. As The Huffington Post's Sam Stein writes. "The politics of McConnell's and Reid's ploys are somewhat different," because while Reid is trying to get moderate Republicans to break with their party (Olympia Snowe has already come out against the Ryan budget), McConnell is trying to get liberal Democrats to break with theirs. In any case, Stein writes, the "show votes" demonstrate that the next few weeks of budget negotiations "are likely to be filled with as many theatrics as substantive discussions."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.