Senate Advances Budget Deal, Poised To Pass
Congress, notable for doing nothing, is on the verge of doing something instead. On Tuesday, the Senate advanced the Murray-Ryan budget deal, voting 67-33 to end debate on the legislation and proceed toward an actual vote. That vote will come no later than Wednesday, and it’s widely expected to pass. While neither Republicans nor Democrats have much reason to celebrate the substance of the deal, the fact that a budget proceeded to a vote with approval from two-thirds of the body is somewhat remarkable, and certainly a turnaround from mere months ago, when Congress didn’t pass a budget at all.
The entire Democratic caucus and twelve Republicans — including some really conservative ones, like Orrin Hatch — voted to end debate on the bill. Some of them will vote against the final passage of the bill, the embodiment of having your cake and eating it, too, but it’s almost certainly going to pass regardless.
As Bustle reported, the deal staves off a government shutdown, marginally increases spending, and that’s about it:
It doesn’t change or restructure entitlement spending in any way, so Social Security and Medicare benefits will remain as they are. It doesn’t extend unemployment benefits, either, something Democrats were not happy about (Nancy Pelosi reportedly told her caucus to “embrace the suck” of the bill), and it doesn’t raise the debt ceiling. It does add $45 billion to the government’s budget in 2014 compared with where it would have been otherwise, and adds an additional $20 billion to the 2015 budget. It also pays off $20 billion of the deficit.
The legislation offsets the costs of the spending increases by adding a $2.50 tax-except-we’re-not-calling-it-a-tax to airline tickets, as well as increasing the amount federal workers have to pay into their retirement benefits. All in all, it undoes $63 billion of the sequester’s spending cuts, and will supposedly reduce the benefit by $20 billion or so over the next ten years.