Divided House GOP turns to special rule to pass budget

Washington (CNN)House Republican leaders are pulling out a rarely used procedural tool -- known as "queen of the Hill" -- so they can pass their fiscal blueprint on Wednesday after a messy internal fight threatened to derail their budget last week.

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team had to get creative after a spat broke out between defense hawks -- who wanted to boost Pentagon spending levels -- and fiscal hawks -- who argue that spending cuts across all government agencies are needed to balance the budget.
GOP leaders know they won't get many -- if any -- votes from Democrats, so they had to find a way to bridge the deep divisions inside their own conference.
House passes Homeland Security funding bill
House passes Homeland Security funding bill


    House passes Homeland Security funding bill


House passes Homeland Security funding bill 02:47
    Boehner and company pulled out the "queen of the Hill" rule, which allows multiple votes on various Republican and Democratic budget proposals, so as to avoid another embarrassing floor defeat. The proposal that gets the most votes wins passage. But the strategy comes with some risk, because it means the GOP divide on fiscal policy will play out in the open on the House floor.
    Boehner had announced he would add more money for the Pentagon to the plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Georgia, to appease the sizeable block of defense hawks. But his maneuvering to get around set limits prescribed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 led Democrats to cry "gimmick."
    The structure for the House vote means the original Price budget plus the revised one with more defense money will each get votes, along with a proposal with more dramatic spending cuts backed by fiscal conservatives.
    "There's a risk that no budget plan will pass," House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told reporters, adding he would urge his colleagues to support the budget that provides the most defense funding.
    "I still don't like this is the way we are doing things and I hope we change it and get rid of sequestration in the future," Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, and Army veteran, told CNN, referring to the forced spending cuts that are in place now due to the 2011 law.
    Rooney also said he was likely to vote for the version that boosts the Pentagon's budget.
    Multiple GOP members told CNN the process hasn't been pretty, but they expect that proposal to win out after all the votes are recorded on Wednesday.
    Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, called Boehner's move to add more defense spending "a shell game," and said he'll vote no on all the Republican budget alternatives.
    In recent days, House Republican leaders warned members that if they failed to pass a budget they would lose their only chance this year of landing a bill repealing Obamacare to the President's desk.
    Both the House and Senate budget plans include a procedural tool known as "budget reconciliation" that allows the Senate to overcome a filibuster and pass legislation rolling back the President's signature health care law with a simple majority of 51 votes.
    Even if Republicans were to succeed with that process, President Barack Obama is sure to veto the measure. But it's a fight GOP members want to have, especially ahead of the 2016 elections.
    Complicating the task of passing a Republican budget is a Thursday vote on a $200 billion bipartisan deal Boehner negotiated with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to avoid cuts for doctors treating Medicare patients.
    Members of both parties say putting in place a permanent "doc fix" is important, but some on the right of the GOP conference are complaining that only about one-third of price tag is offset with cuts elsewhere.
    "Doing those back to back doesn't send a very strong a message of fiscal conservatism," Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told reporters.