- Edwards Releases Senate Fundraising Totals
- Academics Say Higher Education Prepared Them for Higher Office
- Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Mountain Region
- Top Races to Watch in 2016: New England
- Top Races in 2016: The Midwest
House and Senate negotiators have unveiled their budget blueprint to partially undo the sequester, but ardent defenders of 2011’s automatic spending cuts sought to undercut the agreement even before it was announced.
Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., heralded an agreement on Tuesday evening to increase the discretionary spending cap for fiscal 2014 to the neighborhood of $1 trillion, an increase from the $967 billion under the required sequester created by the 2011 debt limit deal. The new deal includes increases in spending allocations on both the security and non-security sides of the ledger, and the agreement would last for two years.
Ryan said the measure “reduces the deficit by $23 billion and it does not raise taxes and it cuts spending in a smarter way.” He added, “This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January.”
Murray lauded the agreement as a break in the gridlock that has gripped the legislative branch in recent years, calling it an “important step in helping to heal some of the wounds here in Congress.”
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key architect of the 2011 budget framework, continued to tout the 2-year-old Budget Control Act as a success, underscoring the delicacy of any new deal to put in place a bicameral agreement on spending.
“I have said in the past I remain convinced that the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do. We’ve reduced government spending for two years in a row, for the first time since right after the Korean War,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Many of us came to Congress to do just that.”
McConnell added: “I think it has been a success, and I hope we ... don’t revisit it.”
To be sure, any agreement would likely have undone the sequester cuts in some way. The original Budget Control Act never intended for sequestration to take effect; the 2011 supercommittee was tasked with finding more targeted cuts and deficit reduction but failed to do so — which caused the automatic spending cuts to kick in.
The middle ground for this year’s deal-makers includes fee increases and other sources of revenue that don’t qualify as tax increases (such as higher contributions by government employees to their pensions). That’s far short of the broad tax increases Democrats sought and the major entitlement cuts Republicans wanted.
Some outside conservative groups were criticizing the framework even before its release for allowing any spending increases, even with the offsetting reductions and receipts.