Is it just me, or is it telling that House Democrats did not chose to stay in town to try to pass an extension for unemployment benefits? Just sayin'!
The House passed an 2-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday evening, possibly signaling a truce in the spending showdowns that have paralyzed Washington for the past three years.
Approval of the budget was the House’s final action of 2013. Earlier Thursday, lawmakers agreed unanimously to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military pay and policy, and to extend current agricultural policy after negotiators failed to complete a new Farm Bill.
The Senate is poised to pass the budget and defense bills next week. House and Senate leaders say that votes on a new Farm Bill will be held after Congress returns to Washington in early January.
The budget deal appeared to mark a significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years fueled by tea party-aligned politicians and outside conservative advocacy groups. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather.
If the Senate approves the budget bill next week, as expected, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees would then work over the holidays to prepare funding bills for individual government agencies, which are likely to be combined into a single omnibus bill. Although the agreement lessens the odds of another government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires Jan. 15, the omnibus bill must pass before that deadline to keep the government open.