The House has voted 322-94 to approve the two-year budget deal hammered out by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
But the vote made for strange bedfellows: Two diametrically opposed Northern California House members I interviewed for last Sunday’s story – Barbara Lee and Tom McClintock – both voted against the deal, albeit for very different reasons.
“The least we can do for the millions of long-term unemployed who are struggling just to get by during this holiday season is to pass this three-month extension,” she said. “This budget does nothing for the millions of jobless people and asks nothing from the people who caused our economic crisis and continue to benefit from economic inequality. Please remember, this is not about showboating or statistics; we are talking about people’s lives. We are talking about people living on the edge. We are talking about 1.3 million people who will lose unemployment benefits during this holiday season. It is cruel. It is morally wrong, and it is economically stupid.”
McClintock, R-Granite Bay, says the deal undoes even what scant good sequestration had done for reducing the nation’s long-term debt and deficit. The most stinging indictment of the deal might come from former Reagan budget director David Stockman, McClintock said.
“His verdict is chilling: ‘It’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.’” McClintock said. “The new Congressional budget is a mistake at a time when we can’t afford many more mistakes. The path of least resistance, even if paved with good intentions, is not a path America can afford to travel any longer.”
All other Bay Area House members voted for the deal.
In the hours before Thursday’s vote, Rep. Eric Swalwell had wrangled members of the bipartisan freshman United Solutions Caucus he helped found to urge the deal’s passage.
The 13 lawmakers – eight Democrats and five Republicans – who signed Swalwell’s statement noted the deal will give citizens and businesses a sense of fiscal stability that has been “sorely lacking of late,” and will replaces parts of the automatic sequester cuts while still reducing the long-term deficit.
“No agreement is perfect and there are aspects of the Ryan/Murray budget with which all of us disagree,” the statement reads. “But, that is what legislating in Congress is all about – cooperating to achieve an agreement which on balance would improve the lives of the American people. We encourage all Members to support this budget and help us take this step forward, together, in getting our fiscal house in order.”