Rep. Ryan And Sen. Murray Announce Budget Deal
December 10, 2013

Details to follow, but at least we know there's no Grand Bargain in there:

Bipartisan congressional negotiators unveiled a long-awaited budget framework to fund the government past mid-January and stabilize the government's finances into the near future.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top lawmakers on budgetary issues in their respective chambers announced a fiscal framework that would help eliminate the constant threat of a government shutdown under which lawmakers have worked for the better part of the last three years.

"I think this agreement is a clear improvement on the status quo," Ryan said, noting that the agreement removes the threat of another government shutdown for the foreseeable future.
"We have broken through the partisanship and gridlock and reached a bipartisan compromise that will prevent a government shutdown in January," Murray said at a joint press conference to announce the agreement.

The announcement follows a day full of fine-tuning the details of the agreement, which covers the next two fiscal years and set a top-line budget number for each year. The House, where conservatives could upend the agreement if they refuse to vote for it, was slated to act first this week on the legislation.

The deal won quick praise from House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, the Republican speaker whose dogged budget negotiation strategies had contributed to a government shutdown in October.

"While modest in scale, this agreement represents a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings," Boehner said in a statement.

The framework would set spending levels above the $967 billion cap established by the sequester; the budget for 2014 would be set at $1.012 trillion, and the budget for 2015 would be $1.014 trillion. Appropriators will be charged with detailing the particular spending within those limits.

The increased spending was financed in part through $85 billion in reforms and "non-tax revenue," while also providing $63 billion in sequester relief split between military and non-military spending. Ryan said the proposal would reduce the deficit by $23 billion without raising taxes.

Though the tentative agreement falls far short of a "grand bargain" that solves overarching fiscal issues through a combination of new taxes and entitlement reforms, the agreement would offer some stability to government funding after several years of governing characterized by stopgap spending measures.

The deal also leaves some key elements facing Congress unsolved. Continued unemployment benefits, which Democrats want to authorize before the end of the year, are not part of the agreement. One idea under discussion, per a senior Senate Democratic aide, is agreeing to hold a separate vote on unemployment insurance this week.

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