Budget deal heads for tense vote in House

Budget deal heads for tense vote in House

BUDGET BATTLE: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, joined by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., takes reporters' questions, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, as House Republicans signaled support for a budget deal worked out yesterday between Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chair Rep. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The budget deal was one of a few major measures left on Congress' to-do list near the end of a bruising year that has produced a partial government shutdown, a flirtation with a first-ever federal default and gridlock on President Obama's agenda. Photo: Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

By Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner erupted in anger at conservative groups who oppose a rare bipartisan two-year budget deal on Thursday as lawmakers prepared to vote on the measure in the lower house.

The Republican Boehner said external groups had “lost all credibility” and stepped “over the line” by urging lawmakers to oppose the bill, which would avoid showdowns for about two years and mitigate some of the automatic budget cuts known as the “sequester”.

Separately, a source close to Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, said he would vote against the measure if and when it arrives in the Senate next week.

McConnell, who faces a challenge from a Tea Party conservative in his bid for re-election from Kentucky, opposes the deal because it would increase the spending level for government programs to about $1.012 trillion this year, up from $967 billion that had been previously scheduled.

The agreement itself appeared in little danger. It can probably pass the House and the Senate with a combination of Republican and Democratic votes.

The remaining question appeared to be how much public strife the budget deal would cause among Republicans at a time when they have been trying to draw attention away from their own ideological split and toward the failings of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Boehner, who has been going along reluctantly but quietly with Tea Party-oriented conservatives on most fiscal issues until now, blasted groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth and Freedom Works for egging on House members to oppose compromise both now and during the fall showdown that led to a 16-day partial government closure.

“They pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government. Most of you know, and my members know, that wasn’t exactly the strategy that I had in mind,” he said during a news conference.

“But, if you’ll recall, the day before the government reopened, one of the people at one of these groups stood up and said, ‘Well, we never really thought it would work’.”

“Are you kidding me?” Boehner said, grabbing the podium and raising his voice for emphasis.

Asked if he was asking the outside groups to stand down, Boehner said, “I don’t care what they do … There just comes a point when some people step over the line.”

The deal promises to provide some relief from the automatic “sequester” spending cuts by increasing federal outlays by $63 billion over the next two years.

It shifts these cuts to other savings, including increased airport security fees and changes to federal pension programs, and offers up to $23 billion in additional deficit reduction over 10 years, mostly in future years.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Fred Barbash and Krista Hughes)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Steve Sarkisian fired by USC


Steve Sarkisian, USC Head Football Coach, has been fired according to ESPN.

in Sports

California bans ‘Redskins’ for school sports


California will ban public schools from naming their sports teams "Redskins," a name seen as a slur against Native Americans.

in National

There’s ‘wiggle room’ on rate hike timing


A top Federal Reserve official who has long wanted the U.S. central bank to wait until next year to raise rates signaled on Monday that he could be persuaded to support a rate hike this year, so long as the increases are gradual.

in Lifestyle, National

Four ways to get a jump on tax season


Taxpayers face a cliffhanger again this year as Congress dithers about extending more than 50 expired tax breaks, including popular deductions for college tuition and fees, mortgage insurance and sales taxes.

in National

U.S. reassesses Columbus Day, Native American plight in focus


About four miles from the world's largest Christopher Columbus parade in midtown Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of Native Americans and their supporters will hold a sunrise prayer circle to honor ancestors who were slain or driven from their land.