Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced Tuesday they have reached an agreement on a two-year budget deal.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would reduce the cuts imposed by sequestration by $63 billion over the next two years, though the deal would also provide $23 billion in additional spending cuts during the same period.
The deal would also prevent potential government shutdowns in January and October 2014.
President Obama called the deal “a good first step” in a statement released Tuesday night, calling on lawmakers to “pass a budget based on this agreement so I can sign it into law.”
“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way,” Obama said in the statement. “That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done.”
Speaker John Boehner also praised the deal, calling it a “positive step forward” in a statement released Tuesday evening.
“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.
Whether or not the deal can pass both chambers of Congress remains to be seen. But the fact that the two chief negotiators — polar opposites ideologically — were able to come to an agreement is hugely significant for a Congress that has only been able to pass short term spending measures and has been defined by brinksmanship and last minute can-kicking.
“I see this agreement as a step in the right direction. In divided government you don’t always get what you want. That said, we still can make progress toward our goals,” Ryan said at a press conference announcing the deal.
“I think this agreement is a clear improvement on the status quo,” he said. “This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January, it makes sure we don’t have anther government shutdown scenario in October. It makes sure we don’t lurch from crisis to crisis.”
Both Murray and Ryan insisted that the deal was as Murray put it, “not the one I would have written on my own,” but they both stressed it was far better than the alternative of sequester and short-term spending bills. That will be an important selling point to both parties who have been skeptical. Multiple conservative organizations have come out against the budget, before even seeing the proposed legislation.
And after it was released, Sen. Marco Rubio came out strongly against the deal, saying that Americans “deserve better than this,” in a statement released Tuesday.
“This budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans,” he said in the statement.
Ryan said at the press conference that he “expects great support from our caucus because we are keeping our principles.”
“As a conservative I think this is a step in the right direction,” he said. “What am I getting out of this? Deficit reduction. The deficit will be reduced more than if we have done nothing. Point number two, there are no tax increases here. Point number three, we are getting out of auto-pilot spending.”
Democrats have likewise been nervous about the agreement because it does not include an extension of unemployment insurance — something Democrats have been pushing for. The liberal group Democracy for America said in a statement that House Democrats “should stand strong and reject any budget deal that fails to adequately protect those who continue to look for work.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking member on the budget committee, however, was cautiously receptive to the deal.
“This agreement isn’t perfect, but it is certainly better than no agreement at all. This difficult negotiation has gone through many phases,” he said. “The final product replaces part of the job-killing sequester without disproportionally hitting working families, including hundreds of thousands of public servants. It’s a small, but good step forward for our country.”
Murray said the point of a bipartisan deal was compromise.
“I’m confident we won’t have 100% of the Senate or 100% of the House,” Murray said. “This is a bipartisan deal. We have both had move to get to where we are today. But I think the American people ought to know, that this Congress can work.”
Statement from President Obama
Earlier this year, I called on Congress to work together on a balanced approach to a budget that grows our economy faster and creates more jobs – not through aimless, reckless spending cuts that harm our economy now, but by making sure we can afford to invest in the things that have always grown our economy and strengthened our middle class. Today’s bipartisan budget agreement is a good first step.
This agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as “the sequester” that have harmed students, seniors, and middle-class families and served as a mindless drag on our economy over the last year. It clears the path for critical investments in things like scientific research, which has the potential to unleash new innovation and new industries. It’s balanced, and includes targeted fee increases and spending cuts designed in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy or break the ironclad promises we’ve made to our seniors. It does all this while slightly reducing our deficits over time – coming on top of four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II. And because it’s the first budget that leaders of both parties have agreed to in a few years, the American people should not have to endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years.
This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done. That’s the way the American people expect Washington to work. I want to thank Senator Murray, Congressman Ryan and all the other leaders who helped forge this bipartisan agreement. And I want to call on Members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and actually pass a budget based on this agreement so I can sign it into law and our economy can continue growing and creating jobs without more Washington headwinds.
But, as I said last week, the defining challenge of our time is not whether Congress can pass a budget – it’s whether we can make sure our economy works for every working American. And while today’s agreement is a good first step, Congress has a lot more to do on that front. In the immediate term, Congress should extend unemployment insurance, so more than a million Americans looking for work don’t lose a vital economic lifeline right after Christmas, and our economy doesn’t take a hit. And beyond that, they should do more to expand broad-based growth and opportunity – by creating more jobs that pay better wages, by growing our economy, and by offering a path into the middle class for every American willing to work for it.