WASHINGTON — A sweeping vote by conservative Republicans controlling the House and President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies has sent a bipartisan budget agreement to the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from the GOP.
The modest package passed by the House would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.
Democrats who were upset that the bill does not extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed suppressed their doubts to advance the measure to the Democratic-led Senate, where Obama’s supporters appear set to clear it next week for his signature.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/house-gop-conservatives-help-propel-budget-bill/
WASHINGTON — House Republicans are rallying behind a modest budget pact that promises to bring a temporary halt to budget brinkmanship in Washington and ease automatic budget cuts that would otherwise slam the Pentagon and domestic agencies for a second straight year.
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats also are praising the measure negotiated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who has morphed, however briefly, from an uncompromising small-government stalwart into a dealmaker eager to claim a partial victory on the budget.
The deal Ryan negotiated with Senate Democratic counterpart Patty Murray would preserve the bulk of tough agency spending cuts the GOP won in a 2011 showdown with Obama, while reducing the chances of a rerun of the partial government shutdown.
It’s set for a vote Thursday.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/house-republicans-get-behind-budget-agreement/
WASHINGTON — Top Republicans and President Barack Obama are lining up behind a modest but hard-won bipartisan budget agreement that seeks to replace a portion of tough spending cuts facing the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis.
It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the current budget year.
The measure unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate counterpart Patty Murray of Washington blends $85 billion in spending cuts and fees to replace $63 billion in cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/gop-obama-line-behind-modest-budget-deal/
WASHINGTON — A new poll finds Americans hold Congress in strikingly low regard as a midterm election year nears. Nearly two-thirds say they would like to see their House member replaced.
The Associated Press-GfK poll finds that elected officials in Washington are not benefiting from the public’s slightly improved view of the economy and their own personal finances.
President Barack Obama’s approval rating is negative: 58 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 42 percent approve.
The low opinions of Congress don’t necessarily signal major power shifts next year in the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate. Many House districts are safe enough to protect incumbents despite public discontent.
Most Americans favor a pathway to legal status for immigrants living here illegally. The House has not approved such a measure.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/ap-gfk-poll-low-approval-congress-obama/
CHAPEL HILL – In an interview with Ron Stutts on Friday morning, Governor Pat McCrory expressed dissatisfaction with the 16-day government shutdown.
“I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and got us nowhere,” he said.
McCrory said the shutdown happened because of a lack of discussion between the legislature and the White House, something he thinks should have been addressed much earlier.
“This is where we didn’t have discussions–which we should have–between the White House and the House and the Senate,” McCrory said. ‘They should have gotten a room, locked themselves up and not come out of the room until they came out with a deal.”
The 16-day government shutdown affected many North Carolinians, particularly government employees.
“We had over 3,000 state employees that were furloughed,” McCrory said. “And now its ironic–those that were furloughed will probably still be paid, while other state employees who actually worked didn’t have time off–but you know it just causes nothing but problems.”
In January a similar stalemate may happen between the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress. McCrory says he hopes the two parties can work together to avoid a repeat.
“I request the President to lead that effort,” he says, “and get (the) three leaders–the Senate leader, the House leader, and the President–in a room. And they ought to be doing that right now in preparation for January.”
Click here to listen to the full interview.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/governor-mccrory-dissatisfied-with-govt-shutdown/
CHAPEL HILL – Amid budget cuts in North Carolina, your local U.S. Representative, David Price’s bill entitled the Keep Teachers Teaching Act, would allow schools to apply for federal grants to develop programs that aim to keep teachers working in education.
“The strongest local districts and state systems could apply for the funds and then we would disseminate the results,” Price says.
The Congressional Research Service says that half of all K-12 teachers move to a different career after five years of being hired.
“There are many reasons for that, but my fear is that in North Carolina, those reasons have just become stronger,” Price says.
Both Congressman Price and the co-sponsor of the Keep Teachers Teaching Act, North Carolina Representative G. K. Butterfield, say the education bills they are introducing into Congress are meant to help states like North Carolina where budgets have cut back on education.
“Part of it is being diverted to public schools through vouchers, but part of it is just for a nice tax cut, mainly for wealthier people,” Price says.
Rep. Price is also co-sponsoring a bill that Rep. Butterfield introduced that would increase the federal funds for teachers who work in low-income schools.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/price-discusses-his-education-bill-on-wchl/
We’ve had a fairly chilly and frequently gray holiday season here in Chapelboro. It seems fitting, not only to the calendar, but to the events that marked the end of 2012. From the destruction of Hurricane Sandy to the devastation in Newtown, CT, the end of this past year seemed blighted.
As I write this, the chilly gray weather continues, but I expected the psychic gray to lift and not just because the calendar turned a page. I couldn’t believe men and women paid to represent this country would dare be irresponsible enough to let the year turn without protecting our fragile economy. I was sure I’d awake to not only a new year but to a new deal (if not a New Deal) that would, in varying degrees, ask the wealthiest to pay more, lower the deficit and create a framework to cross the idealogical divide in our nation.
And so I did. But now that wee-hours agreement struck in the U.S. Senate is under threat in the U.S. House of Representatives. This makes me feel gray but see red. How dare they be paid by us and show fealty to an ideology only and not to the citizenry? Do they care more about the ideology than the nation’s credit rating? Do they care more about the ideology than the economy’s need for solid footing? Apparently they do. Are they not required to pledge an oath to their country? Their WHOLE country?
These ideologues give up any claim to ever being called statesmen (or women) from the second they scuttle this deal. Their legacy will be as obstructionists.
I write this in anger, as you may have gathered. And cooler heads may prevail in Washington and I will be eternally grateful to have been wrong (yes, it’s true). But why is compromise now considered unacceptable by some? And why did it take so long when everyone knew this deadline was looming?
For every day there is no deal, do the lawmakers not get paid? Not receive their stellar benefits package? Is there any way to make sure the infractions of the 112th Congress aren’t repeated? Oh, yeah, we do get to throw them out.
Our towns are replete with both the highly educated and the super smart (and some outstanding folks who are both!). Could I impose on a historian with a calm temperament to either comment below or post separately about how and when or if this country’s elected leaders will stop acting like schoolchildren protecting their own questionably-built forts. Or, send me serene thoughts of sunny days ahead to Donnabeth@Chapelboro.comhttp://chapelboro.com/columns/savvy-spender/muted-joy/