Two days before the end of his quarter-century in Congress, Speaker John A. Boehner’s barn is looking pretty clean.
The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted a crucial bipartisan budget accord that in one relatively tight 144-page bill stands to end five years of bitter clashes between Republicans and the Obama administration over fiscal policy, allowing Mr. Boehner to fulfill his metaphorical pledge.
The measure, which was approved by a vote of 266 to 167, with 79 Republicans joining 187 Democrats in favor, averts a potentially devastating default by lifting the federal borrowing limit through March 2017, and it sharply reduces the risk of a government shutdown by setting clear spending targets for the next two years.
The adoption of the budget bill, which now goes to the Senate where approval is also expected, was just a part of Mr. Boehner’s departing effort to sweep clean a path forward for his successor, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who will be formally installed as speaker on Thursday.
In another display of collaboration — stunning for a Congress that has been marked by partisan rancor and even more vicious internal disputes among Republicans — majorities in each party united on Tuesday in favor of reopening the federal Export-Import Bank.
Supporters of that measure forced a vote, which passed 392 to 37, using a rare procedural weapon, called a discharge petition. That same day, the House also approved a three-week extension of federal transportation programs that will at least give Mr. Ryan some breathing space.
The Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who has been a partner and adversary of Mr. Boehner’s — during his five years as speaker and four years before that when he was leading the minority — gave him credit for keeping his pledge.
“John Boehner said he was going to ‘clean out the barn,’ ” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview on Wednesday. “He’s checking off things and moving in a timely fashion until the last full day.”
Some Democrats, however, complained that Mr. Boehner was perhaps being given too much praise. Even with his backing, they noted, a large majority of Republicans — 167 out of 247 — voted against the budget accord, while all 187 Democrats who voted were in favor, a potentially worrisome sign that the rancor and dysfunction would quickly return to the forefront.
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SOURCE: The New York Times
David M. Herszenhorn