The Senate stayed up late to pass the budget and debt ceiling deal, a last minute bit of campaigning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) notwithstanding. Paul’s promised filibuster was a flop, and the bill passed but with substantial Republican opposition.
Thirty-five Republicans opposed the deal, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who are facing tough reelection battles in blue-leaning states next year.
The legislation clears the calendar of major fiscal fights, including funding the government, until after the 2016 elections that will see Republicans defending 24 Senate seats.
Actually, the legislation doesn’t do that at all, and the 35 Republican senators and the 167 House Republicans who voted against this deal means that there will be an ongoing fight. Because it doesn’t fund the government until 2016—it sets overall spending levels, not actually providing the funding authorizations for all the government agencies, and certainly doesn’t
In fact, just six of 12 appropriations bills have been passed by the House. None have been passed by the Senate because Democrats have blocked them to coming to the floor over policy riders that aren’t related to the budget that Republicans have attached to them. Public Citizen and a group of public policy groups highlighted just a handful of those riders—18 out of dozens and dozens—that take aim at “public health, safety, workers’ rights, financial security, science, and the environment.” It’s more hostage taking—allow us to kill net neutrality or don’t fund government—in a new form, and it’s going to be the big fight of the rest of the year.
It’s going to come down to the White House and President Obama’s willingness to use the veto and stand fully behind Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has already refused to play along with McConnell’s game. The White House statement on the budget and debt ceiling deal that says it “looks forward to working with the Congress to enact responsible, full-year FY 2016 appropriations —without ideological riders—based on this agreement in order to continue growing the Nation’s economy and creating jobs.” That’s a good start, but we have the problem, as David Dayen points out, that Obama has agreed to some pretty bad policy riders in the omnibus appropriations bills since 2011. That can’t happen again.