None of the five lawmakers who voted for the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2013 expressed enthusiasm. Several members indicated that in a time of partisan gridlock in Washington, the deal would reassure nervous markets and investors, would not raise taxes, and undo part of the automatic-across-the-board spending cuts that began last March.
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) added the agreement did not raise taxes and the deal was the most prudent political and economic path to take for fiscal conservatives.
“The House has passed numerous budgets that would have balanced the budget, paid off the debt, but it’s become clear that Senate Democrats and the President are unwilling to even consider those plans,” Tipton said in a statement.
“It also puts a stop to budgeting from crisis to crisis, preventing future government shutdowns that create economic uncertainty,” Tipton added.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) noted that lifting part of the sequester cuts would help constituents in his district, which has five military installations.
“There was good and bad in this legislation. However, my number one priority is to protect our nation’s security. President Obama’s reckless budget cuts are hurting our nation’s security today,” Lamborn said in a statement.
Rep. Diana DeGette protested the absence of a key economic safety provision in the deal, but suggested the partial lifting of the sequester was reason to support the agreement.
“I’m very concerned about the unemployment (benefits),” DeGette said in an interview Thursday before the vote. “I had a labor forum in Denver with people in their 50′s whose jobs have been eliminated and have no savings left. Having said that, I think the budget agreement is a compromise.”
Representatives Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, did not release a statement about his opposition to the deal.
Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat who supported the agreement, too did not release a statement on his congressional website or Facebook page.
In a statement, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) emphasized that the deal would provide economic stability.
The vote was 332 to 94. One-hundred-sixty Republicans joined 163 Democrats to support the bill, while 62 Republicans and 32 Democrats opposed it.
Yet deficit hawks opposed the deal. The Club for Growth and Heritage Action were among the groups that denounced the legislation for not immediately imposing spending cuts in the federal budget.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), a champion of reforming defense spending, said he opposed the deal because it “breaks the budgets cap in defense spending without any real effort at reforming how the Pentagon operates.”
Underlying the disagreement among conservative Republicans was a battle between those who sought immediate cuts in federal spending and those who seek to reduce the deficit as a percentage of the economy.
Those who pushed for immediate cuts could point to the fact that the deal would lift parts of the caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011. In addition, in September the Congressional Budget Office noted that the budget deficit from 2009 to 2012 was the largest recorded as a share of the Gross Domestic Product since 1946.
Those who seek to reduce the deficit as a share of the economy defended the lifting of the sequester caps as minor.
“For the next year and a half, it replaces 30 percent of it,” Rep. Paul Ryan, an architect of the deal, told TCO in an interview Thursday. The CBO report said the deficit in 2013 is projected to be the lowest since 2008 — four percent of GDP.
In addition, the agreement contains $63 billion in cuts over the next two years. They come from reductions in 24 programs, including a provision that would ask recent federal employees to pay more for their pension benefits.
President Obama has said he would sign the bill. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to pass it next week.