House passes bipartisan budget plan, debt limit increase
Washington — The House has passed a bipartisan budget-and-debt deal that prevents an unprecedented government default.
A coalition of Democrats, GOP defense hawks and pragmatic Republicans supported the measure.
The legislation now heads to the Senate, which is on track to pass it before Tuesday’s deadline for increasing the so-called debt limit. It gives the government authority to borrow freely through March 2017.
The measure is the result of hard-fought negotiations between congressional leaders and President Barack Obama.
The bill also calls for approximately $112 billion in additional spending over two years, to be allocated in upcoming legislation negotiated by the House and Senate.
About $80 billion would be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
“A solid piece of legislation,” declared outgoing Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who played a key role in engineering the accord after announcing his resignation last month following a quarter-century in Congress and nearly five years in the speaker’s chair. Boehner was beset by intractable divisions between the party’s pragmatists and purists, but those will now be Paul Ryan’s to resolve.
Wednesday’s budget bill makes good on Boehner’s promise to “clean the barn” for Ryan on the way out, removing the most contentious issues that would have confronted him immediately upon becoming speaker. Conservatives loudly protested the price tag and a secretive, back-room process, and farm-state Republicans raised alarms about cuts to federal crop insurance programs.
The accord also became a punching bag for GOP presidential candidates, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul, all of whom denounced it ahead of a Wednesday night presidential debate.
But the House approved the legislation and sent it to the Senate anyway, relying on a majority of Democratic votes, a feature of a number of significant deals cut under Boehner’s leadership. Democrats supplied 187 of the “yes” votes, while 79 came from Republicans.
“The outgoing speaker of the House has partnered with Democrats and Senate leadership to craft a monstrosity of a budget deal,” one hardliner, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, complained, calling on candidates for speaker to reject the bill.
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