Lo and behold, in this least productive year ever in Congressional history, the House was able to get a two-year budget deal passed. Not only did it pass, but it received a significant majority of votes. The final vote tally was 332-94. Miraculously, Speaker of the House John Boehner was able to deliver the majority of his caucus. He still had to rely on Democrats to push it into the majority. Overall, 163 Democrats voted for the measure while 32 opposed it. 169 Republicans voted in favor while 62 rejected it.
This bill now heads to the Senate for a vote. Normally, it is in the House that one is concerned about a bill that had a large majority of support not passing. However, it is believed that there are a number of Senate Republicans that are going to vote against this bill, perhaps enough to cause a filibuster. Right now, Majority Leader Harry Reid needs to deliver basically all of the Democrat votes (55) while hoping that there are at least 5 Republican Senators that are willing to go against the hard-core conservative lobbying groups as well as some of the more vocal critics within the Senate.
The fact is, this is a deal that is far more favorable to Republicans than Democrats, which is why after much grousing, the majority of Republicans in the House went along with it. The only real concessions made to Democrats is the restoring of some sequestration cuts while setting spending at around $1 trillion, which is a little bit more than what Republicans have been shooting for. However, long-term unemployment benefits are being eliminated, which is something Democrats really want restored but will deal with momentarily in order to get a budget finally passed.
Of course, Senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have aspirations of White House runs in 2016 and beyond, so they need to keep their conservative credentials. Therefore, they are obviously voting against this. They could push more Senators to also vote against it and create negative momentum against the budget deal. On top of that, Senate Republicans are still throwing a temper tantrum regarding the dissolving of the filibuster rule for Presidential nominations, so they are wasting tons of time in the chamber right now. This also means when they finally get to voting on this budget, many could vote against it out of pure spite.
President Obama has already indicated that he will sign the bill once it is approved. Reid wants to restore the unemployment insurance cuts, but is willing to wait until January to push for that, stating that he’ll sick to have the benefits made retroactive, meaning that the unemployed will get sent the total amount of benefits from when they were eliminated. So, basically, the Democrats are doing what they always end up doing–being grown ups and dealing with an imperfect hand in order to get something done. To Boehner’s credit, he did not get 100% of what he and his caucus wanted (though they came very close) and actually got a budget passed with bipartisan support.
It now remains to be seen if Cruz and Co. will be able to sabotage this budget deal in the Senate. I am sure that groups like the Heritage Foundation are making calls to every GOP Senator this very morning, threatening them with primary challengers, negative ads and poor scorecards. How many Republican Senators will have the courage to go against these lobbying firms?
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).