The House of Representatives has passed Speaker of the House John Boehner’s last major bill before his resignation, the two-year budget deal that also raises the debt ceiling. The House passed the budget deal on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 28, 2015 with a bipartisan vote of 266 to 167 with all Democrats voting for the measure, but with less than a third of Republicans voting in the bill’s favor.
After only an hour-long debate on the House floor, the budget agreement was put to a vote. Republicans however, were reluctant to vote for the bill that increased domestic program spending and raised the debt ceiling. Republicans thought the budget was an “11th-hour” “victory” for President Barack Obama and the Democrats by increasing spending. In the end, only 78 Republicans voted in the measure, the bill would never have passed if all the Democrats had not voted for the budget agreement.
The two fiscal year budget increases defense and domestic spending by $80 million ending the sequester mandatory spending cuts, and raises the debt-ceiling limit until 2017. Defense and domestic program spending would be raised by $50 billion in fiscal 2016 and then increase those programs by $30 billion in fiscal 2017. The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund would also cover $32 billion more in defense spending to be used specifically to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and continued military activities in Afghanistan. In total, there will be $112 billion in new spending.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA hailed the bill’s passage, stating “We pushed through the gridlock to provide more economic certainty… major victory … for bipartisanship (and) for working families in our country.” Speaker Boehner issued a statement after the bill passed. Boehner touted its benefits to Americans, “This agreement is by no means perfect, but on balance it’s a good agreement for our troops, for taxpayers, and for the American people.”
Republicans were not so exuberant about the bill, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH criticized it, calling it “Another last-minute, back-room spending deal by the White House and congressional leaders that busts the budget caps and allows unlimited debt for the next 18 months. No wonder so many Americans distrust Congress.”
The budget deal now goes to the Senate, where it expected to pass, but with some Republican dissension. GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky promised a filibuster, saying at a press conference in Colorado before the third Republican primary debate, “I will do everything I can do to stop it.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is certain the bill will pass, Minority Leader Harry Reid promised to deliver the Senate Democratic votes. The final vote is expected on Monday, Nov. 2.
The package deal would be the final major legislation to be passed under Speaker Boehner who is resigning from the speakership and his House seat on Oct. 30. Boehner resigned to spare the country another government shutdown, and give himself the leeway to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal. With a deal in place, it gives incoming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-WI a clean slate to begin his speakership. Avoiding another government shutdown was also a goal of Senate Majority Leader McConnell who deemed it essential to ensure the GOP holds on to their control of both houses of Congress.
GOP Congressional leaders and the White House reached the budget deal on Monday, Oct. 26. Since Sept. 17, Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, House Minority Leader Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV and their staff having been negotiating with the White House including White House budget director Shaun Donovan and legislative affairs director Katie Beirne Fallon.
The country was the edge of an economic disaster with the debt ceiling reaching its limit on Nov. 3 and the country possibly defaulting on its loans and the short-term spending bill funding the government would run out on Dec. 11 risking another government shutdown. Congress still has to pass an “omnibus funding bill” and separate appropriations bills, and controversy could still erupt if Republicans insist on controversial rider that irks Democrats, still the deal takes away the threat of a shutdown and going over the fiscal cliff.