Source: USA TODAY
WASHINGTON–The U.S. House is on track to vote Thursday on a bipartisan budget deal reached by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Ryan briefed congressional Republicans Wednesday on the two-year framework that sets top-line spending figures through fiscal year 2015 and partially alleviates unpopular across-the-board cuts known as the sequester. The deal also eliminates the threat of another government shutdown during that time period.
The framework includes $85 billion in spending cuts and non-tax revenue from new fees to replace the mandatory budget cuts and supply a modest amount of deficit reduction.
The budget deal is expected to get a significant amount of GOP support, despite opposition from influential conservative outside groups that are urging lawmakers to oppose the deal.
“I’m one of the most conservative in the caucus and I’m a ‘lean yes’ on this,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., following the meeting, “I’m not sure that the outside groups are going to be able to influence us away from what really is a good step in the right direction.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who ceded control of the budget talks to Ryan, likewise pushed back on outside groups’ attempts to influence lawmakers. “They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said, “This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
Outside conservatives did not soften their opposition Wednesday. “We support pro-growth proposals when they are considered by Congress. In our evaluation, this isn’t one of those,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement.
House Democratic leaders were lukewarm on the agreement, in part because the deal includes no new tax revenue and does not address expiring unemployment benefits affecting 1.3 million Americans.
“Members will make their own decisions as to where we go with this,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “And again, we would have preferred something quite different, but we do recognize the value of coming to a decision so that we can go forward with some clarity on other legislation that we want to see.”
The House will adjourn for the year on Friday. The Senate is expected to vote on the package next week, and President Obama said Tuesday that he will sign it.