House leaders predict budget deal's passage

Dec. 11, 2013 at 2:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A federal budget deal struck on Capitol Hill will pass the U.S. House of Representatives with a majority of Republicans in support, party leaders predicted.

The deal, struck between Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the House budget committee chairman, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., his Senate counterpart, promises to cap federal spending at $1 trillion for the next two years, replaces across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester both parties disliked and does not raise taxes or modify entitlement spending. It does raise fees for the Transportation Security Administration and will require some federal employees to contribute more toward their retirement plans, Politico reported Wednesday. It shaves the national debt by about $23 billion.

Unlike previous budget deals, the GOP's most conservative members in the House have not opposed the deal en masse. House Speaker John Boehner blasted outside criticism from conservative groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth -- both of which harshly criticized the deal for failing to reduce the deficit enough and spending too much.

"They're using our members and they're using the American people for their own goals," Boehner said Wednesday. "This is ridiculous. Listen, if you're for more deficit reduction you're for this agreement."

Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss details of the agreement with members. During it, Politico said Ryan made a pitch similar to one he's made in public: The deal reduces the deficit, restores some defense spending and holds the line on taxes -- all Republican priorities.

Still, it did not impress all Republicans.

"I think it is terrible plan," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a Tea Party-aligned lawmaker. "It makes promises to the American people that are false. Today the Democrats realized they were right all along, that we would never hold the line on the sequester."

Detractors were found on the left, as well, with many House Democrats complaining the bill does not extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans still looking for work.

Though she said she will wait to decide how to vote until the final legislation is put forth, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the unemployment benefits should be included in the deal.

"It's unconscionable that we could considering leaving Washington, D.C., without extending these benefits," Pelosi said.

Despite detractors on both sides, House leaders expressed confidence this budget deal would pass with a majority of the Republican conference's support -- a threshold previous budget attempts have failed to reach, dooming them to failure, the Hill reported.

It would, however, still likely require support from some Democrats before it moves to the Senate for consideration.

The final contours of the coalition required for House passage remains to be seen, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who is spearheading opposition to the bill, conceded that it will likely get a majority of House Republicans behind it.

"I think it probably will," he said. "This was not a bill designed to get [conservative] support ... it was designed to get the support of defense hawks and appropriators and Democrats."

The legislation is expected to be put to a vote Thursday.

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