House passes budget deal
The vote was pretty overwhelming: 332 - 94, which probably means passage in the Senate too.
As I said yesterday, this is a penny ante deal that has more to do with strategic thinking about 2014 than it does reducing the deficit. If the Senate passes this budget, it will clear the decks for immigration reform early next year, and probably means smooth sailing for Obama in getting a longer term debt ceiling increase.
Meanwhile, the Obamacare meltdown remains story #1.
In an interview after the vote, Ryan said the vote total was "much higher than I expected," and that "we're getting a little bit of integrity back into the system."
"I think people are hungry to get things done around here," Ryan said. "That's what I got, I got so many of my colleagues saying thank you for bringing some normalcy back to this place. So I'm very pleased about that."
The deal sets discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion for the current fiscal year -- a level that will rise to $1.014 trillion in fiscal 2015 -- and replaces sequester cuts slated to take effect in January with more targeted spending cuts. Absent the agreement, discretionary spending would decline to $967 billion early next year with a large proportion of the cuts hitting the Pentagon.
The agreement, which includes $23 billion in net deficit reduction, doesn't extend expanded unemployment benefits that expire at the end of December. It also does nothing about the debt ceiling, which must be addressed sometime in the spring.
Still, the budget is a breakthrough for a Congress frozen by partisan fiscal fights for the past few years. In a practical sense, the budget will help lessen the chance of a government shutdown in mid January and again in October, just before the 2014 midterm elections.
Neither party appears to be jumping for joy over the agreement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats in a closed meeting to "embrace the suck" of this bill, adding that Congress needs "to get this off the table so we can go forward."
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday morning that the agreement is "not everything that we wanted, but it advances conservative policy and moves us in the right direction."
Boehner gets a boost out of this from the insiders and national press. But his idiotic outbursts about conservative advocacy groups only fuels the civil war. He made far more enemies this week than friends.
The big loser in this is Paul Ryan who, like Marco Rubio, has now lost favor with the right wing. It's too early to tell whether being an enemy of the Tea Party will help or hurt the Congressman if he decides to run for president in 2016.