By: Regina Wright ~Staff writer~
A two-year budget agreement was approved in a 266-167 vote by the House of Representatives on Oct. 28 and a 64-35 vote by the Senate on Oct. 30. The budget extends the nation’s debt ceiling until March 2017. The deal increases domestic spending on social services and defense programs for the next two years.
Congress intends to pay for these measures by reforming aspects of entitlement spending and selling public airwaves and oil from public petroleum reserves. When revealed earlier last week, many rural lawmakers complained about cuts to the crop insurance program.
House leaders made a plan that will maintain the same crop insurance rates but add the $3 billion cost onto the spending bill for next year. The deal was widely accepted by Democrats, especially since it was a successful bipartisan negotiation. Some Republicans did not express support for the deal because they believe it will add to the nation’s debt and that the cuts and reforms to the budget will not work.
The budget is 3.8 trillion dollars and makes up 21 percent of the nation’s economy. Former House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama and other legislative leaders negotiated the budget, this being Boehner’s last legislative action as House Speaker.
On Thursday morning, House Speaker nominee Rep. Paul Ryan was officially elected as the 54th House Speaker with 236 votes. The passing of the budget gives Ryan a fresh start and keeps the nation from defaulting on its loans, which would result in a fiscal crisis. The budget was sent to President Obama’s desk on Saturday and needs to be signed by him, which he says he will do.
“This agreement is a reminder that Washington can still choose to help, rather than hinder, America’s progress,” Obama said in a press statement. The funding for the budget will still need to be passed by an omnibus bill in Congress on Dec. 11. It could also have additional provisions attached to it, such as defunding Planned Parenthood.