An $85 billion budget deal reached earlier in the week breezes to passage in the United States House of Representatives with the support of two-thirds of the Nebraska delegation.
The bill now moves to the Senate on the strength of a 332-94 vote.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican, supports the deal, though he admits it fails to reduce the budget as much as he would like.
“Well, it’s a small and imperfect deal admittedly, but I believe it incrementally moves us in the right direction,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Look, you can dig a hole and crawl in it or you can lean into this problem that we have with deficit and debt and governmental shutdowns and confront it directly and that’s what this bill does.”
The deal replaces much of the across-the-board cuts enacted by the Budget Control Act of 2011, known as the sequestration.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, a Democrat from the state of Washington, announced the $85 billion deal earlier this week.
The deal would fund the federal government through September of 2015.
It sets spending levels for the next fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion the next year; an increase in federal spending of $45 billion the first year, $63 billion over the two years.
Some assessed the agreement as a cease-fire between Democrats and Republicans which spawned cyclical crises in Congress.
“If you look at the two numbers, the House of Representatives had a much lower number that we wanted to spend than the Senate and the deal actually is split straight down the middle. So, if you want to call it a demilitarized zone, that might be a better way to put it than a cease fire,” Fortenberry says. “We’ll go back to the debate, as to what is the essentials of government and what should be cut and let go of.”
Congressman Adrian Smith voted against the bill, one of only 62 Republicans to vote against the deal.
Smith tells Nebraska reporters in a conference call the budget doesn’t cut the deficit enough, fails to reform entitlements and does little to fix what he calls a broken appropriations process.
“I don’t want to overpromise what one bill can deliver and I certainly respect my colleagues who may have voted yes last evening, but I do not want to overpromise what a bill can deliver.”
Smith says the deal falls short of fixing what he calls a broken appropriations process.
“So, I think this process, perhaps if there is a good point to it is that there is some agreement on those numbers, to move forward. I still think that we haven’t gotten very far if all end up with is an omnibus, rather than a regular order appropriations process,” Smith says.
Congressman Lee Terry voted for the bill.