House Passes Two-Year Budget Deal

by | December 12, 2013 7:40 pm

NewLetters[1]Perhaps Congress is saving its best for last.

With time ticking down[2] on this year’s session, the House passed a two-year budget deal[3] with bipartisan support today. The measure was approved by a vote of 332-94, with 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats supporting it.

The deal was crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The new budget will alleviate many of the sequester spending cuts. Around $63 billion of those cuts will be replaced with savings in other places. The plan saves $28 billion over the next ten years, includes $22.5 billion in deficit reduction, and sets fiscal year 2014 spending at $1.012 trillion. Fiscal year 2015 spending will bump up to $1.014 trillion.

Perhaps most importantly, the deal would eliminate the specter of another government shutdown in January, which was a distinct possibility if a deal wasn’t reached before tomorrow.

Entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid went unaffected, but the deal did not include an extension of unemployment benefits that many Democrats desired. Still, enough Democrats went along with the plan to help the bill pass easily.

A vote is scheduled for next week in the Senate on the measure, but it could face a more difficult path to passage there. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., warned that at least five Republicans will need to support the bill in order to overcome a possible filibuster. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama have all expressed opposition to the measure.

Still, given the deadlock that has plagued Congress all this year, this has to be seen as a step in the right direction.

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

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