Bars set this low were made to be jumped over. And yet, it was something of a marvel on Tuesday when lawmakers from the House and the Senate took to the microphones to announce that they had reached a budget deal. The deal, which was negotiated over the past few weeks by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would set spending for the next fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and increase it to $1.014 trillion the year after that. Should their budget framework actually pass through Congress, it would represent an increase in federal spending by $45 billion in one year and $63 billion over the course of two years.
In a major breakthrough after three years of paralyzing partisan rifts, Congress' top two budget chiefs finalized a bipartisan agreement Tuesday that would set spending levels for two years and mitigate some of the painful spending cuts required by the sequester. The deal announced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) would raise establish spending at $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 in 2015 -- up from the $967 billion required by the across-the-board sequester cuts. It provides for about $63 billion in sequester relief, divided equally among defense and non-defense programs.
Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, one of the key Republican negotiators on a possible budget deal, said Friday that he would support raising revenue and more of his colleagues need to be open to the idea. "I think both sides would like to deal with the sequester. And we're willing to put more revenue on the table to do that, and we would like to do it with entitlement savings," Cole said on Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital with Al Hunt," adding the GOP was more focused on "pro-growth revenue" as opposed to tax increases.
The House’s bill to fund transportation, housing, and urban development (THUD) was pulled from the floor on Wednesday. Thursday, the Senate bill failed to clear a filibuster as Mitch McConnell mounted an aggressive, last-ditch effort to give House Republicans cover. Absent that sudden and overwhelming political imperative, the legislation likely would’ve passed: It got six Republican votes coming out of conference, and was being managed on the floor by the bipartisan team of Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Like an army that’s outrun its supply line, the Republican budget strategy in Congress shows almost daily signs of coming apart. The central premise, as sold by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, was that Washington could wipe out deficits in 10 years and protect defense spending, all while embracing the lower appropriations caps dictated by sequestration.
Research leaders at some of the top American universities have held an annual gathering in Washington the last four years to discuss science, technology, and how federal policies have hampered or fostered both.
Washington is once again at an impasse over fiscal matters, and once again the overwhelming majority of the intransigence comes from the Republican Party, which continues to rigidly reject any deal that includes any meaningful increases in tax revenue.