EDITORIAL: Progress is in the House

Budget vote suggests lawmakers finally are ready to govern again.

FresnoDecember 13, 2013 

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has finally showed backbone by challenging conservative campaign operatives.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

he House budget accord is a modest victory but one worth taking.

It could have been worse; it's not pretty; and it's better than the alternative.

So go the reviews of the federal budget deal that was approved Thursday by the House by a 332-94 vote, and that now heads to the Senate for a vote next week.

There is much to dislike in the budget; budgets always have warts. But at least this budget, modest though it is, appears resolved. Partisan brinksmanship that led to a government shutdown in October is over, for now. That, in itself, is a step in the right bipartisan direction.

The budget should have included an unemployment insurance extension for the long-term unemployed. It should have dealt with the debt ceiling. And it should have closed gaping tax loopholes.

But for the time being, it will end the practice — assuming it wins Senate approval — of leaving spending on autopilot through the continuing resolutions that have kept the government operating.

For the next two years, Congress will take the lead in determining what gets funded or not, as the Constitution contemplates.

The deal would increase spending to $1.012 trillion in the coming year and $1.014 trillion in the fiscal year that begins next October, up from $967 billion currently.

Importantly, some of the dull-bladed sequester cuts to worthy programs such as Head Start and low-income housing will come to an end as a result of the deal.

It also will shave $23 billion from the deficit and could place the budget in balance 10 years from now, while raising fees on air travelers and requiring federal workers to pay larger shares into their pensions.

Speaker John Boehner finally showed backbone and appropriate anger by challenging conservative campaign operatives who are threatening to fund challengers to Republicans who supported the budget accord.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gained stature by finding common ground with Democrats, specifically the Senate's lead budget negotiator, Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Ryan, the former vice-presidential candidate, acknowledged critics on the right but also repeated the truism that elections have consequences. The ticket on which he ran lost to President Barack Obama, and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

"To do what we want, we're going to have to win some elections," Ryan said on the House floor shortly before the vote.

In the final tally, 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats supported it. They are to be commended.

All of our San Joaquin Valley lawmakers supported the compromise budget with the exception of Tom McClintock. This was to be expected. McClintock is an ideologue with no interest in compromise or solutions.

 

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