WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday approved a two-year budget deal that suspends the debt ceiling and hikes both military and domestic spending.
Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa joined most of her fellow Democrats in backing the proposal. Most House Republicans opposed it — despite President Donald Trump urging them to vote yes.
The overall tally was 284-149.
Among the Republicans who voted for it were Reps. Don Bacon and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska.
“While far from perfect, this agreement funds our most urgent national priorities and provides fiscal stability for our growing economy,” Bacon said in a statement after the vote.
House Republicans have seen Trump previously appear to sign off on bipartisan compromises only to backtrack, but Thursday morning, the president sought to make his support crystal clear.
“House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets,” Trump tweeted. “I am totally with you!”
House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets. I am totally with you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2019
Bacon cited Trump’s backing and said rejecting the deal would mean months of budget uncertainty, the potential for a government shutdown and a weakened national defense.
The Omaha-area congressman also touted provisions in the legislation favored by those seeking abortion restrictions, as well as billions of dollars for more border security.
Critics of the deal characterized it as simply putting off an inevitable reckoning of the country’s mounting debt, with one suggestion to rename the legislation “A Bill to Kick the Can Down the Road.”
Among the Republicans who voted against it were Reps. Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Steve King of Iowa.
“I cannot support a budget which raises spending this much without needed budget reforms,” Smith said in a statement. “By lifting budget caps and raising the debt ceiling without corresponding spending cuts, we only push the problem to a later date without a solution.”
The legislation is expected to pass the Senate next week and be signed by Trump, although that doesn’t mean that everyone in the other chamber is happy with it.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., released a statement condemning the proposal.
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“This deal is bad news: Both parties yet again agreed to spend more money that we don’t have and the swamp just got swampier,” he said. “Like a lot of Republicans, I think we’re under-investing in some key national defense priorities, but I’m a conservative so let’s be honest: If D.C. keeps ignoring basic math and reality, what’s the military going to defend once our kids go bankrupt? Unless Republicans get serious, Speaker Pelosi is going to take us to the cleaners.”
Still, Fortenberry and Bacon stood by the legislation in their own statements.
“The budget process is always difficult and imperfect,” Fortenberry said. “If we didn’t act, we risked a future government shutdown, a worse deal in the end, debt and higher expenditures.”
In an interview, Fortenberry said that those complaining about the deficit have a fair point but that rejecting the deal would simply have too many negative consequences.
“I’m being a realist here, and I’m being part of a what is a necessary governing coalition,” he said.
Bacon made similar points while emphasizing the budget stability the deal provides to defense.
“We do have a deficit problem and we don’t seem to have an appetite in Congress really on either side to deal with it,” Bacon said.
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