WASHINGTON – The U.S. House voted quickly and overwhelmingly late
Thursday to stamp its approval on both a bipartisan budget deal and a
new, $632.8 billion defense bill for the current fiscal year, speeding
both onto the Senate for expected passage next week.
Shortly after 6 p.m. on the eve of adjourning for the rest of the year,
representatives voted 332-94 – a vote total yelled out happily by
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – for a two-year federal budget that will
set spending at $1.012 trillion for the 2014 fiscal year and $1.014
trillion in 2015. The deal cuts $23 billion from the federal deficit and
restores $63 billion in past spending cuts caused by sequestration. The Pentagon will see a total of $30 billion of that restored over the next two years.
Republicans and Democrats came together on the vote, with both sides
saying they didn’t get what they wanted. Democratic Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi of California reportedly had told her caucus to “embrace
the suck” when considering the deal, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin,
the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, reminded the House of
his defeat in a floor speech just moments before the vote.
Russell Rumbaugh, a senior associate and director of budgeting for
foreign affairs and defense programs at the non-partisan Stimson Center,
said the deepest cuts to DOD have been softened by being spread out
over multiple years.
“The most important thing is that it significantly softens the drop in
defense spending – the key word there is ‘softens,’ ” Rumbaugh said.
“Really, the defense budget is still going down to the same low point it
was previously going to go down to, it’s just now not going to do it
for a couple of years.”
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