Budget Compromise Passed, Up Next: GOP Budget
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
Another stopgap spending bill runs out at midnight tonight, but there won't be a government shutdown. That's because Congress has now enacted a budget deal keeping all things federal in business until the fiscal year ends in September.
Still, more fireworks are in store on Capitol Hill. Today, a sharply divided House votes on a Republican budget for the next fiscal year.
NPR's David Welna reports.
DAVID WELNA: The dispute over how much to cut spending for the rest of this fiscal year not only came close to shutting down the government last week, it also put on the line the clout and credibility of House Speaker John Boehner. That was evident yesterday as the House neared a vote on a deal he signed off on with 38-and-a-half billion dollars in spending cuts, $22 billion less than what House Republicans had earlier approved. Boehner tried talking down a growing rebellion among fellow Republicans against the budget deal.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; Speaker of the House): Does it cut enough? No. Do I wish it cut more? Absolutely. And do we need to cut more? Absolutely. But there are some who claim that the spending cuts in this bill aren't real, that they're gimmicks. Well, I just think it's total nonsense.�A cut is a cut.�
WELNA: That failed to dissuade 59 House Republicans, who voted against the budget deal. Minnesota freshman Chip Cravaack was one of them.
Representative CHIP CRAVAACK (Republican, Minnesota): What I'm hearing from the people of the 8th District of Minnesota, up to the very last minutes of me voting, they said hold the line. They said make sure you get the cuts we need. And this would - I very much respect Speaker Boehner. He came back and said this is the best deal I can do. But for people in my district, it just wasn't good enough.
WELNA: In the end, it was thanks to the votes of 81 Democrats that the deal passed in the House 260 to 167.
Congressional expert Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College says House Republicans proved a tough sell on the bipartisan agreement.
Professor JACK PITNEY (Claremont McKenna College): Initially, Boehner got the benefit of the doubt. But as more and more details of the agreement came out, more and more Republicans turned against it.
WELNA: The budget deal easily passed the Senate. By then, the House had already begun heated debate on next year's budget.
South Carolina freshman Republican Tim Scott praised Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's proposal, which reduces projected spending over the next decade by nearly $6 trillion.
Representative TIM SCOTT (Republican, South Carolina): Paul Ryan calls this plan the path to prosperity. I call it leadership. It's what our country has been thirsting for.
WELNA: And it has Democrats hoping the budget will prove a political blunder. They say its trillion dollars in new tax breaks for business and the wealthy, along with Brian's proposal to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system, are exactly what the country does not want.
Louise Slaughter is a New York Democrat.
Representative LOUISE SLAUGHTER (Democrat, New York): Sadly, today, this bill will end Medicare and cost-shift to seniors $6,000 more a year. And why are they doing that? Well, they get to pay for more tax breaks for big oil and millionaires who are untouched.
WELNA: Senate Democrats are already dismissing the GOP budget. Here's New York's Charles Schumer.
Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): Democrats will not tolerate the House Republican budget's assault on Medicare. It isn't fair. It isn't right, and it will never, never pass the Senate.
WELNA: There may be more GOP defections when the House votes today on the budget. Some Republicans have deep misgivings about revamping Medicare. But Speaker Boehner insists that the budget for next year helps push President Obama in the right direction.
Rep. BOEHNER: He's asking us to raise the debt limit without addressing the real problem of spending cuts and reforms. This will not happen. And this will not pass the U.S. House.
WELNA: And that likely means the battle over this year's budget was just a warm-up for what's to come.
David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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