The House passed the budget and debt ceiling deal negotiated by outgoing Speaker John Boehner, his congressional leadership counterparts, and the White House Wednesday, in a 266-167 vote. Democrats voted unanimously for the bill, the majority of Republicans against it.
In addition to setting spending levels for the next two years, the deal takes an immediate threat off the table—the debt ceiling has to be raised by November 3 or the government risks defaulting on our debts. The House acted in time to avoid that—and take a critical hostage away from the nihilists among them—and will still be able to take Friday of this week off, presumably needing the extra time to get their Halloween costumes together. This debt ceiling will be lifted until March 2017 in this bill.
The new spending levels break the sequester caps, increasing spending overall in the next two years by $112 billion. Of that,
billion will be split equally between domestic and defense spending, the additional $32 billion will go into the overseas contingency fund—a sort of defense slush fund that Congress likes to raid to increase defense spending without having to come up with offsets to pay for it. The bill was sent immediately to the Senate, where they will act on it by November 3, even with Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) threat to “filibuster” it, another one of his fake filibusters in which he doesn’t actually stop a bill from passing, just fills up hours of debate time to create a campaign commercial and fundraising email fodder.
The deal has been touted as a solution to the twin hostages of government shutdowns and defaults. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really take the threat of a shutdown completely away. While it sets spending levels, it doesn’t actually do the authorizing and appropriating necessary to keep the doors open. As of now, the current continuing resolution that is funding government still runs out on December 11, and will have to be replaced or renewed. The fights to do that are huge and still remain. The House Republican majority has been happily passing appropriations bills that have noxious policy riders attached, which the White House has threatened to veto. So while the really scary threat of a debt default has been removed, the possibility of a shutdown fight still remains.