The House has passed a bipartisan budget bill 332-94 that could fund the government through 2015 after Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., reached a deal late Dec.11.
The bill received support from 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats. It will head to the Senate next week, where it is expected to pass.
The bipartisan bill would raise the spending cap from the sequester-imposed $967 billion to $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015. Under the sequester, the cap would have shrunk to $967 billion in 2014.
The future cap increases would keep the government from constantly having to reach short-term agreements to keep the government functioning; something Murray called “lurching from crisis to crisis.”
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 will also replace $63 billion in budget cuts to a variety of public programs, $20 billion of which would have been taken from the defense budget.
However, the bill reduces government spending. The funding would be offset by fee increases and reductions in spending equaling about $85 billion in the next 10 years without raising taxes.
It will also cut a significantly meager $20 billion from the nation’s $17.2 trillion national debt.
“I’m proud of this agreement,” Ryan said, “It reduces the deficit without raising taxes and it cuts spending in a smarter way.”
President Barack Obama said the bill would avoid Americans having to “endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years.”
“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like — and I know many Republicans feel the same way,” he said in a Dec. 10 statement. “That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done. That’s the way the American people expect Washington to work.”
If Congress does not pass the deal, defense spending will fall 17 percent below its 2010 mark and non-defense spending will fall 17.8 percent, as a result of the sequester.
Both sides are giving the bill lukewarm reviews.
Some liberals are disappointed with the deal as it does not include a provision to extend benefits for workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. The benefits are scheduled to end Dec. 28.
Conservatives panned the bill for its lack of fiscal conservatism. The interest group Americans for Prosperity released a statement saying politicians are poor stewards of the public’s tax dollars.
“[The bill] allows the government to spend well beyond its means and increases our borrowing limit without scrutinizing the wasteful spending that is putting us further into debt,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity.