Ryan and Murray Reach Budget Deal

by Patrick Brennan

The joint House–Senate budget conference announced a deal tonight to fund government for the next two years, at somewhat higher levels than were scheduled under sequestration. “This bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion, and it does not raise taxes, and it cuts spending in a smarter way,” Ryan said.

The two had been in budget talks all year over the budgets their respective chambers had passed. Of his House budget, Ryan said, “I realize that is not going to pass in this divided government. I see this [deal] as a step in the right direction.” Ryan boasted the deal fulfills his top priority, reducing the deficit without raising taxes, while Murray argued that, by restoring spending on education and other domestic-spending priorities, it “puts jobs and economic growth first.”

The “Bipartisan Budget Act,” Murray said, will allow the federal government to “stop lurching from crisis to crisis” and let Congress return to “regular order” in its budgeting process. Both Ryan and Murray boasted of the rarity of such a compromise, and Ryan noted it was “the first divided-government budget agreement since 1986.”

The two budget committee chairmen have been working on a deal since the government shutdown fight ended to fund the government after the current spending bill expires. The rough details of the bill: It will set 2014 spending at $1.012 trillion, higher than the $967 billion set out by the sequester and approximately the spending levels the federal government is set to reach by 2016. The deal will also redistribute some of sequestration’s spending cuts. Over the next two years, spending will be $63 billion higher than it was scheduled to be otherwise. The deal doesn’t extend unemployment benefits, a key aim of Democrats and the Left.

They’ll pay for the additional spending and more — actually reducing the deficit by $20 to $23 billion – with some new revenues, such as higher fees for airlines and increased payments by private companies for federal pension insurance, and longer-term spending cuts, including reductions to military and federal-employee pensions.

The House and the Senate will both vote on the deal this week or next.

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