WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeff Fortenberry is sold on the proposed federal budget agreement.
The proposal would ease the bite of across-the-board cuts known as sequestration and break existing spending caps, while raising some fees and making some trims to entitlement spending.
Fortenberry described the deal as “small” and “imperfect” and not exactly what he would have drafted, but he said he would vote for it.
“At some point you have to govern,” the Lincoln Republican told The World-Herald. “This moves us forward. It avoids a shutdown. In the long term, it decreases deficits. It stops the heavy-handed sequestration type of reductions that weren't giving us the flexibility to fund essential things, hurting the military disproportionately.”
Fortenberry also praised it for avoiding tax increases, trimming mandatory spending and preventing the overall process from seizing up.
Other Midlands lawmakers were skeptical. Reps. Lee Terry and Adrian Smith, both Nebraska Republicans, were still reviewing the proposal. So were Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King, both Iowa Republicans.
But King said he had a feeling from his GOP colleagues that the proposal is likely to win House approval.
“It's being met with cautious acceptance,” King said.
Senate Republicans also have a say, however, and many already were raising concerns.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he's likely to oppose the deal because it raises new revenues in order to pay for additional spending.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said that she was still reviewing the proposal but that her initial impression was not favorable. She said it appears to put off tough decisions into the future.
“That's not why I was elected,” Fischer said. “I was elected to make tough decisions now.”
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said the deal has pros and cons.
“Anything that takes the pressure off the spending caps is going to prevent us from addressing the real issue here, which is entitlement reform,” Johanns said. “On the plus side, you get some degree of stability for a couple of years and there is value to that.”