Congress Avoids Government Shutdown

by | March 21, 2013 7:07 pm

NewLetters[1]The 2013 budget fight is finally over. Now bring on 2014.

The House of Representatives passed today, by a 318-109 margin, a bill that will fund the government[2] through the end of the current fiscal year in September. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk. There is no indication that the president will not sign the bill.

The government shutdown threat[3] was the latest in a series of potential political and economic calamities that have faced the United States in recent months. The United States managed to avoid the fiscal cliff[4], but not sequestration[5], and the effects of those automatic cuts are slowly but surely[6] being felt.

Neither side really wanted a repeat of the government shutdown that happened during President Bill Clinton’s administration, and it looks like Democrats and Republicans were able to reach a bipartisan agreement for this year’s budget.

Next year, however, is shaping up to be another bruising battle. Paul Ryan’s 2014 budget, which would cut spending by $4.6 trillion, repeal Obamacare, and make significant changes to Medicare, was also passed by the House today. The Senate has begun working on its own 2014 budget, which would cut the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations by $975 billion over the next decade. Neither side is likely to pass the other’s proposal, which puts the two halves of Congress at a stalemate.

Still, there is much to be admired from the 2013 budget deal, the brainchild of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala. The deal should take some of the sting out of sequestration by resetting priorities and developing stop-gap budgets for departments that would otherwise have been hit hard by the cuts. It also restores funding for some of the more politically sensitive programs facing serious cuts, including meat inspection and infant nutrition.

Now if only Congress could continue working this cooperatively on the 2014 budget.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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