Senate Republicans managed to wrangle enough of their troops to overcome a filibuster early Friday morning and pass the new budget deal, granting President Obama yet another debt holiday, busting the budget caps and boosting spending some $80 billion over the next two years.
Democrats, who are far more thrilled with the deal, did the heavy lifting, providing most of the votes as they won some $40 billion in new domestic spending in 2016 and 2017. They also forced the GOP to retreat on the hard-fought 2011 budget agreement that had helped bring deficits back under control.
Conservative Republicans were irate at their leaders and at defense hawks within the GOP who forced the deal by saying it was worth busting the caps in order to get the Pentagon more money at a time when the U.S. is fighting the war on terror.
“This deal represents the worst of Washington culture,” said Rep. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and presidential candidate who’d vowed to lead the filibuster, but who saw his efforts fall short to what he called an “unholy compromise between right and left.”
The bill cleared on a 64-35 vote, with just 18 Republicans joining all Democrats in backing the bill.
President Obama said the deal will “break the cycle of shutdowns and manufactured crises” that he and Congress have been through the last few years.
“This agreement will strengthen the middle class by investing in education, job training and basic research. It will keep us safe by investing in our national security,” he said.
Mr. Obama also said those hikes came without any major cuts to entitlement programs, which Republicans had sought.
The debt deal had already cleared the House on Wednesday, as part of a rush by Republican leaders to get it done as quickly as possible, leaving little time for scrutiny. The 144-page deal was written late Monday, and the final Senate vote came at 3 a.m. Friday, meaning it was sped through in less than 100 hours.
That works out to more than $1 billion in new spending for every hour the bill was available, or some $558 million a page.
The debt increase, meanwhile, amounts to far more. Judging by recent borrowing, the 16-month debt holiday would work out to more than $1 trillion in new borrowing — or $13 billion for each hour Congress considered the bill.
Friday morning’s votes split the Republican presidential candidates, with Mr. Paul and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz opposing it and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a prominent war hawk, backing it.
Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who’s running for Democrats’ nomination, also voted for it.
After the vote, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the GOP candidates who opposed the debt hike had shown they weren’t up to winning the White House.
“Raising the debt limit and passing a budget are non-negotiable responsibilities of our leadership,” she said. “Our constituents elect us to be their voice and their vote, not to play politics for political gain. There is nothing presidential about failing to pay your bills and jeopardizing our standing in the world economy.
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