ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. After three days in Washington focused on the Supreme Court's health care arguments, attention snapped back to Capitol Hill. Republicans today barreled their budget through the House of Representatives over fierce opposition from congressional Democrats and the White House. The budget, written by Republican Paul Ryan, passed in a near party-line vote. As NPR's David Welna reports, there's virtually no chance the GOP's spending blueprint will be adopted by the Democratic-led Senate.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: In pushing through their budget today, House Republicans cast themselves as the responsible adults in the room. Rather than following the budget numbers Congress approved last summer to end the debt ceiling crisis as the Senate is doing, House Republicans lopped off another $19 billion from spending for next year. House Speaker John Boehner lauded the plan.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: This is a - it's a tough process - making real decisions about our path for the future. And the interesting thing I've found about this debate that's going on the last two days is that our team actually went and made the tough choices.
WELNA: Democrats say the Ryan budget is about wrong choices rather than tough choices. It repeals the new health care law. Nearly two-thirds of the more than $5 trillion in spending cuts it calls for over the next decade would come out of programs for the poor, such as food stamps, Medicaid and Pell grants. Defense spending actually increases by $200 billion. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today denounced the budget's $10 trillion in tax breaks, whose biggest beneficiaries are the wealthy.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: This is absolutely so irresponsible, so out of touch with the needs of the American people and their kitchen-table concerns that they have. But it's a big day for Big Oil and wealthy people and the rest of that and that's who they're here to serve.
WELNA: The GOP budget also calls for those eligible for Medicare a decade from now to buy private health insurance with a government-issued voucher. Budget Chairman Paul Ryan insists the plan would save Medicare for future recipients.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Medicare will subsidize their premiums that they choose - from the plan they choose. If you're low income or sick, you'll get much more. You'll get total coverage out of pockets for low-income person. And we say if you're a wealthy person, you can probably afford more out of pocket, so you're not going get as much of a subsidy.
WELNA: Democrats say Ryan's plan would mean up to $6,000 more in annual medical expenses for elderly persons. Here's White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier today.
JAY CARNEY: Let's be clear. The new Ryan Republican budget creates a segmented replacement for Medicare that would burden seniors and end the program as we know it.
WELNA: Despite its deep spending cuts, the GOP budget would prolong budget deficits for nearly three more decades, largely because of its generous tax cuts. More than anything, its passage today signals a big clash looming with the Senate over next year's spending bills. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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