Rand Paul and Ted Cruz came off the campaign trail to do their best to derail it, but the two-year budget deal easily passed in the Senate by an almost 2:1 margin. The 64-35 early-morning vote would have bested any filibuster in the end, and now waits for Barack Obama’s signature:
The Senate voted early Friday morning to approve a two-year budget deal that would increase spending limits and avert a damaging default, essentially ending the budgetary battles that have defined President Obama’s relationship with Congress in recent years.
The legislation passed by a vote of 64-35 after overcoming objections from conservative senators, including presidential candidates Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), that forced a rare series of votes at 1 a.m. President Obama has until Nov. 3 to sign the agreement before the debt-limit deadline set by the Treasury Department.
Cruz ripped his party’s leadership for negotiating behind closed doors, and not just in a momentary rush to head off a crisis:
Conservatives in both chambers criticized the deal both because it was hatched behind closed doors rather than through the committee process and because they argued it is bad policy.
Many complained that the provisions in the bill that are used to offset the cost of the new spending are gimmicks or promise savings in the future for money the government will spend immediately.
Cruz criticized leaders for negotiating behind closed doors and for agreeing to President Obama’s requests for additional spending.
“This wasn’t a slapdash on a post-it note last night,” Cruz said. “This represents days or weeks or months of negotiations. This represents the Cartel in all of its glory because this is the combined work product of John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.”
Cloture passed on a 63-35 vote prior to passage of the budget deal, with all 35 nays coming from Republicans. Among the presidential contenders, Cruz, Paul, and Marco Rubio voted against cloture, but Lindsey Graham voted in favor of ending debate. Other Republicans voting for cloture were:
- Lamar Alexander
- Kelly Ayotte
- John Barrasso
- Shelley Moore Capito
- Susan Collins
- John Cornyn
- Orrin Hatch
- Mark Kirk
- John McCain
- Mitch McConnell
- Lisa Murkowski
- Pat Roberts
- Mike Rounds
- John Thune
- Thom Tillis
- Roger Wicker
The final vote on passage had not been posted at the time of this writing, but presumably the votes are very similar, if not identical.
This doesn’t put an end to budget fights altogether, but it does take two important issues off the table — spending levels and the debt limit. It also sticks the next President with a need to act immediately on the latter, as the waiver expires in March 2017, but that’s mostly a sideshow. The fights over budgets will now move to appropriation bills, and that may get very contentious, especially if the GOP attaches riders to which Obama will object, and it’s a safe bet that we’ll see some of those.
The best short-term solution to this kind of backroom dealing is exactly what Paul Ryan promised yesterday: a return to regular order and the committee process. The better long-term solution will be to elect a fiscal conservative as President in order to eliminate the demand for spending increases and regulatory expansion.