The Republican controlled Senate passed a two-year budget deal preventing the federal government from defaulting on its debts next week and averting a potential government shutdown. Senators voted 64-35 in favor of the deal on Friday. The deal faced harsh opposition from a majority of Republicans. If the deal is approved by President Obama, it would increase the debt limit through 2017, allowing the government to borrow money to pay its bills.
GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio all opposed the deal. The bill sets spending priorities for the next two years. The promise of more money for the military ensured support from defense hawks like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, while additional funds for domestic programs pleased Democrats.
In an hour-long speech that delayed the start of the final vote, Paul said Congress is “bad with money.” He railed against increases in defense dollars supported by Republicans and domestic programs supported by Democrats. Senator Cruz said the Republican majorities had given Obama a “diamond-encrusted, glow-in-the-dark Amex card” for government spending. The DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz slammed the candidates for opposing the deal calling them reckless politicians.
There is nothing presidential about failing to pay your bills and jeopardizing our standing in the world economy. It is completely unbelievable that these reckless politicians think they deserve a promotion to the presidency.”
The deal also prevents a looming shortfall in the Social Security disability trust fund which threatened to slash benefits. President Obama and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi were the clear winners of the talks but GOP leaders eliminated possible threats to winning back the White House and maintaining its grip on the Senate. The deal allows newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan to walk in with a clean slate.
The budget relief would lift caps on the appropriated spending passed by Congress each year by $50 billion in 2016 and $30 billion in 2017, evenly divided between defense and domestic. Another $16 billion or so would come each year in the form of inflated war spending, evenly split between the Defense and State departments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had a harder time convincing Republican senators to support the bill. Many conservatives objected to lifting the budget caps and raising the debt limit.
I share some concerns other colleagues have raised,” McConnell said. “But here’s the bottom line: This is a fully-offset agreement that rejects tax hikes, secures long-term savings through entitlement reforms, and provides increased support for our military.”
The vote came hours after former House Speaker John Boehner retired and turned over the top House position to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.