By Jon H. Harsch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, April 14 – After repeated shutdown threats and volumes of angry accusations of deal breaking, the federal government is funded through the end of fiscal 2011, Sept. 30 – at $38.5 billion below last year's level. Voting in quick succession Thursday (so that the Senate could leave for its two-week recess tonight), first the House voted 260 to 167 for the budget compromise bill H.R. 1473, then the Senate followed suit with an 81 to 19 vote.
With disappointed Tea Party members complaining the $38.5 was nowhere near the $100 billion cut they'd demanded, 59 House Republicans voted against passage. That many GOP defections left House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, 39 votes short and meant the bill only passed with the help of the 81 Democrats who voted for the bill.
Key to the budget deal worked out last Friday just an hour before the government was due to shut down at midnight, was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed that the Senate would hold floor votes on two controversial Republican “riders” which had held up the deal until they were separated from H.R. 1473. In these two votes which each required 60 votes for passage, H.Con.Res. 35 to defund Obamacare was defeated 47-53 and H.Con.Res. 36 to block funding for Planned Parenthood was defeated 42-58.
With H.R. 1473 passed by both chambers, President Obama is expected to sign the bill Friday – before last Friday's week-long extension expires at midnight.
Now that the 2011 budget battle is over, with both sides claiming at least partial victory, the focus has shifted to the fiscal 2012 budget proposal from House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The House will vote on the Ryan plan Friday. The bill is expected to pass easily on a party line vote.
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