WASHINGTON—In a rare show of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night overwhelmingly approved a budget deal that paves the way for funding the government through the fall of 2015. The measure passed on a 332-94 vote and moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass next week.
The compromise is the result of bipartisan budget talks mandated by the bill that ended the government shutdown in October. House and Senate leaders appointed a bicameral 29-member panel to come up with a budget, but the negotiations were mostly carried out between the chairs of the House and Senate budget committees: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Ryan, speaking on the House floor moments before the vote, called the deal “a move in the right direction,” even though it falls far short of his ultimate goal: balance the budget in 10 years. Ryan said the mini-deal is the result of a divided government that forces the two parties to work together.
Both Democrats and Republicans voiced major complaints about the bill, which some said is the sign of a true compromise. But in the end only 69 Republicans and 32 Democrats voted against it.
“It’s not the budget I would write myself, but it’s a budget much stronger and smarter than the status quo,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. “[The] agreement provides a framework to reduce the federal deficit an additional $23 billion beyond current law, and it does so without raising taxes.”
The budget deal increases spending by $45 billion (to $1.012 trillion) in 2014 and $18 billion (to $1.014 trillion) in 2015, in exchange for $85 billion in cuts over the 10-year life of the plan. Some hardline conservative members said the delayed cuts would likely never happen and opposed the agreement on the grounds that it amounts to a spending increase.
“We have to make stronger structural reforms to the mandatory spending programs that drive our debt,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “[U]ntil President Obama is willing to come to the table and work with us to solve the bigger problems, we won’t be able to achieve those important reforms for American families.”
Most conservative groups opposed the bill, including Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, and Tea Party groups.
The plan also drew criticism from Democrats who were upset that it didn’t extend long-term unemployment benefits. “We should not leave town until we have fixed this problem,” said Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who said he would reluctantly vote in favor of the bill “because it will ease the irrational sequestration cuts that have done so much harm.”
The left-leaning Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) assailed the agreement as “a deal that fails America.”
“It abandons the unemployed, picks the pockets of federal workers and leaves every last corporate loophole and tax dodge in place,” the group said in an email to supporters.
President Barack Obama has already expressed support for the compromise bill.