Congress on Wednesday moved a step closer to clearing a bipartisan budget deal that would boost spending for domestic and defense programs over two years while suspending the debt limit into 2017.
The House passed the bill on a 266 to 167 vote late Wednesday afternoon and Senate leaders have promised to quickly move it through the upper chamber. Senate leaders want to move the bill quickly — the Treasury Department estimates the deadline for raising the debt ceiling is Nov. 3 — and sought to start the procedural ball rolling on Wednesday night, with the aim of it hitting the floor this week.
The agreement would essentially end the often contentious budget battles between congressional Republicans and President Obama by pushing the next round of fiscal decision making past the 2016 election when there will be a new Congress and White House occupant.
House Republican leaders unveiled the proposal earlier this week and immediately faced challenges from conservatives upset over both the secretive negotiations that led to the agreement as well as the policies contained in the bill.
Some of this discontent was dealt with after a change was made to the bill late Tuesday night to ensure that the full cost of the $80 billion in new discretionary spending was offset by an equal amount of mandatory spending cuts and increased revenue.
Several Republicans raised concerns that the bill fell about $4 billion short of this goal, but the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday reported that the changes to the legislation had closed this gap.
Senior Republicans came forward ahead of the vote to support the legislation and encourage others to join them. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said the bill would benefit the military and prevent the threat of another shutdown.
“It stops the cuts in defense, it increases the money going to our troops and it prevents them from being used as a bargaining chip in the future,” Thornberry said. “I think that is the sort of stability and predictability they need and that they deserve.”
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SOURCE: Kelsey Snell
The Washington Post