House GOP Conservatives Help Propel Budget Bill

Budget Battle Boehner
J. Scott Applewhite/APHouse Speaker John Boehner.

WASHINGTON -- After a sweeping vote by conservative Republicans controlling the House and President Barack Obama's Democratic allies, a bipartisan budget pact is in the hands of the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from Republicans.

The modest package passed by the House on Thursday would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.

At the same time, Democrats who were upset that the bill wouldn't extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed suppressed their doubts to advance the measure to the Democratic-led Senate, where Obama's allies appear set to clear it next week for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday morning he would confer with GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to push consideration of the budget agreement sooner.

Senate Democrats promise to force a vote on extending unemployment benefits when the chamber reconvenes next year. They hope that political pressure after 1.3 million people lose their benefits on Dec. 28 will force GOP leaders to knuckle under and extend aid averaging under $300 a week to people who've been out of work longer than six months.

The bipartisan bill breezed through the House on a 332-94 vote, with lopsided majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike voting in favor.

Thursday's vote was a big win for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who earlier in the day lobbed another salvo at conservative interest groups that routinely attack Republicans for supporting legislation they deem not conservative enough. But that is what Republicans can achieve given the realities of a divided Washington.

"If you're for reducing the budget deficit, then you should be voting for this bill. If you're for cutting the size of government, you should be supporting this budget," Boehner said.
"These are the things that I came here to do, and this budget does them. Is it perfect? Does it go far enough? No, not at all. I think it's going to take a lot more work to get our arms around our debt and our deficits."

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida criticized the deal, saying it takes the country in the wrong direction.

"I mean, compromise just for the sake of compromise, so we can feel good about each other, I don't think is progress for the country," Rubio said Friday on CBS "This Morning."

"We have a government that continues to spend more money than it takes in at an alarming pace. That is going to trigger a debt crisis. It is stifling job creation. It is holding American ingenuity back," Rubio said.

The measure would bring a temporary cease-fire to the budget wars that have gridlocked Washington for much of the three years since Republicans reclaimed control of the House. It leaves in place the bulk of $1 trillion or so in automatic cuts slamming the Pentagon, domestic agencies and Medicare providers through 2021 but eases an especially harsh set of cuts for 2014 and 2015.

Nobody is claiming the pact worked out between high-profile Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee last year, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., a 21-year veteran of the Senate, is perfect. It eases $63 billion in scheduled spending cuts over the next two years and replaces them with longer-term savings measured over 10 years, many of which don't accumulate until 2022-2023. Deficits would increase by $23.2 billion in 2014 and by $18.2 billion the year after that.

Mitigating Tough Cuts

But the deal would put a dysfunctional Washington on track to prevent unappealingly tough cuts to military readiness and weapons, as well as continued cuts to programs cherished by Democrats and Republicans alike, including health research, school aid, FBI salaries and border security. The cuts would be replaced with money from, among other things, higher airline security fees, curbs on the pension benefits of new federal workers or working-age military retirees and premium increases on companies whose pension plans are insured by the federal government.

The Ryan-Murray pact uses a combination of mostly low-profile cuts and new fee revenues, much of which won't occur until after the turn of the next decade, to ease cuts mandated by the inability of official Washington to follow up a 2011 budget pact with additional deficit cuts.

Those cuts were intended to be so fearsome that they would force the capital's warring factions to make budget peace. Instead, after the first-year impact of so-called sequestration wasn't as bad as advertised, many Republicans have come to embrace them. The Ryan-Murray deal recognizes that the second year of the automatic cuts would be worse than the first, especially for the Pentagon, and seeks to ease their pain.

Thursday marked the second consecutive day that Boehner went on the attack against conservative groups like Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which often raise money by attacking the GOP establishment.

"They pushed us into the fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government," Boehner said. "That wasn't exactly the strategy I had in mind. But if you recall, the day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and said, 'Well, we never really thought it would work.'

"Are you kidding me?"

Rubio, who is considered a potential GOP presidential contender and is supported by those groups, said Friday, "Look, I think outside groups have a right to express their views."

-Associated Press writer Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.

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Evan is obsessed with what people do for a living because he doesn't do anything.

December 14 2013 at 9:48 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I'm Evan / somey / bady / republost.
We Dems tell lies at any cost.
Boy we cost taxpayers lots.
We're a bunch of brainless robots.

December 14 2013 at 7:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

That is a horrible picture of Johnny Baby Boehner. When I first saw his photo I thought I was about to see a horror movie........

December 14 2013 at 7:03 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to republicanslostagain's comment

If you want a horror show, look at how the Dems waste our money. We know that's you, Evan.

December 14 2013 at 7:46 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

You are the only Democrat who ever told the truth.

And we are still in search of the first Republican who has ever told the truth.

December 14 2013 at 9:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I'm Evan / perry / somey / bad.
The truth really makes me mad.
I just like the lies of us libs.
We do know how to tell great fibs.

December 13 2013 at 8:13 PM Report abuse -12 rate up rate down Reply

Love that photo of Baby Boehner the biggest cry baby on capital hill

That\'s nothin. Check out my picture. No one whines and cries like I do. Tissue?

December 13 2013 at 8:13 PM Report abuse -12 rate up rate down Reply

Love that photo of Baby Boehner the biggest cry baby on capital hill

That\'s nothin. Check out my picture. No one whines a cries like I do. Tissue?

December 13 2013 at 8:12 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to obamasacrybaby's comment

Too bad that seekingthetruth has never found it.

December 13 2013 at 8:16 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

I hear that lib train comin, it's rollin round the bend.
Ain't seen so much stupid since I don't know when.
Dems just buy votes with welfare.
They like to print, tax and spend.
We'll oust them next election
And the waste will end.

December 13 2013 at 5:07 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply

I'm Evan / perryoops / demsrule / somey.
My attitude is really crummy.

December 13 2013 at 5:02 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply

I'm Evan / somey / perryopps / demsrule
I'm just gonna sit here and droole.
I like to stay on AOL 24/7.
My mom's basement is just like Heaven.

December 13 2013 at 3:43 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply