To get Republicans to sign off on the deal, Democrats agreed that the long-term package would be paired with Senate votes on two other bills that mimic controversial riders: a proposal to bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood and one to bar federal agencies from using funds to implement the health care law, a senior Democratic leadership aide said. Republican lawmakers leaving Friday night’s caucus said they were told those votes would occur. The aide said both bills would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.
Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price predicted that the separate Senate votes would appease House GOP lawmakers who had been pushing hard for the riders.
“Those are pluses that I don’t think many of us dreamed we would be able to get,” said the Georgia Republican. “So I think they’re huge — to put folks on record as to whether or not they support the government takeover of health care. … Part of all of this is to demonstrate to the American people that there is a huge contrast between the leadership of the left and the leadership of the right.”
The final deal also reportedly includes only a $2 billion increase in defense spending this year, some $4 billion less than Republicans had originally sought. That reduction came as part of a series of mandatory spending cuts that were included at the behest of Democrats.
Republicans wanted to keep as much of the cuts as possible in discretionary spending accounts in order to reduce the baseline level of funding for future budgets. But Democrats balked at the steep reductions in spending Republicans had originally proposed.
In the end, the deal also fell $22 billion short of the House’s original $61 billion in spending cuts, which left some conservatives unhappy. Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who had been pivotal in keeping CR negotiations going for the chance at steeper cuts, emerged visibly disappointed from the closed-door meeting and said he would vote against the long-term deal.
The RSC initially was a driving force behind Boehner’s pursuit to cut $61 billion in spending. Jordan said that mark was “a modest first step” and crucial in gaining ground for future debates over the budget and debt limit increase.
According to Jordan, that combined with the lack of abortion provisions was too much for some conservatives. “We wanted more advancement on the life issue than what was in the final package,” Jordan said.
But despite some defections, Republicans were feeling good about the bill.
“I think everybody would love to have a larger cut, but we didn’t win the Senate and we didn’t win the White House and so we’re moving the ball forward and we’re damn proud of the yardage we gained on it,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee.
Kathleen Hunter, Jessica Brady and Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.