A bipartisan House rebellion handed President Bush and its own leaders a stunning defeat early today, rejecting a test vote on a five-year, $500 billion deficit-reduction package.
The House voted 254-179 to kill the unpopular election-year package containing $134 billion in tax increases and $301 billion in spending cuts agreed to last weekend by Bush and leaders from both parties in Congress.
"Lose this moment - pick apart the agreement with a thousand points of spite - and we not only lose the agreement but the will to truly govern," House Republican Leader Robert Michel told members before the vote.
The move to kill the budget resolution again sets the stage for massive spending cuts and the furlough of 1 million federal workers after midnight tonight.
The next step by House leaders and Bush was unclear.
The House may try to delay the automatic budget cuts mandated by the Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction law but Bush had threatened to veto a postponement unless the House passed the resolution.