WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans signaled support Wednesday for a budget deal worked out a day earlier, a plan narrowly drawn but promoted as a way to stabilize Congress’ erratic fiscal efforts, avert another government shutdown and mute some of the partisan rancor that has damaged Americans’ attitudes about their lawmakers.
“There’s a lot to like about it,” said one GOP congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, as he emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting.
Still, GOP critics said the measure would increase deficits for the next three years and complained that about half of its deficit savings would come near the end of its 10-year projections. Higher interest costs are likely to erode some of the $23 billion in deficit reduction lauded by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to issue an official estimate of the plan’s impact on the federal deficit.
But other supporters insisted the plan, while imperfect, is at least a step in the right direction.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said most Republicans would back the deal worked out by Ryan, R-Wis., and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and applauded by the White House.
“A lot of folks will probably vote for it even though they would rather not support this type of legislation, but we have to get the spending issue completed so that there is some consistency in the future,” Miller said.
The House plans to vote by week’s end before it adjourns for the year on Friday.
There was some grumbling from both liberals and conservatives since the plan wouldn’t solve long-term tax and spending issues, and ignores expiring unemployment benefits.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, announced his opposition, saying that “undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed.”
But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, dismissed criticism from groups such as Heritage Action, which raise money as they disparage Republicans for being insufficiently conservative.
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people to further their own goals,” Boehner said Wednesday. “This is ridiculous.”
But many House Democrats were less than enthusiastic, too.
“Stay tuned,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when asked about whether Democrats would support the bill.
The agreement, among other things, seeks to restore $63 billion in automatic spending cuts affecting programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. 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 budget year that began in October.