The House of Representatives descended into chaos Friday as Republicans who wanted to pass the really really conservative 2012 budget unveiled by Rep. Paul Ryan almost passed the really really really conservative one authored by the Republican Study Committee because of a trick played on them by Democrats. There wasn't much suspense about whether Ryan's budget, which would enact sweeping changes to Medicare and Medicaid, would pass. But the Republican Study Committee's version had been offered as an amendment. So when it came time to vote on it, and Democrats saw that more Republicans had voted for that version than against it, the Dems all quickly changed their votes from "nay" to "present." To keep the amendment from passing Republicans had to scramble to change their votes lest they accidentally actually pass it, Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler reports. The Democratic gambit was a stunt, for sure, but it had the desired effect of revealing the Republican Study Committee budget proposal as a stunt itself.
The final vote tally was 135 to 119--a "bizarre total" since there are 435 members of Congress, The Huffington Post's Jennifer Bendery observes. And just 119 of the 176 members of the Republican Study Committee voted for their own budget. The Hill's Michael O'Brien said the shouting that erupted when Republicans figured out what was going on was more like what you'd usually see in the rowdy British Parliament. Eventually after order was restored, the House approved the Ryan budget 235 to 193 so that it can now go to die in the Senate.
Video of the GOP bringing the drama to the House floor: