By Lori Montgomery
Thursday, December 12, 2013
House Republicans appeared Wednesday to be rallying around an $85 billion deal to avert another government shutdown, brushing off complaints from their right wing that the effort would trade immediate spending cuts for less-certain long-term savings.
After conducting a series of closed-door briefings and polling members during a late-afternoon vote, GOP leadership aides confidently predicted that the deal struck between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would sail through the House when it comes to a vote Thursday.
The moment seemed to mark a potentially significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years and toward a determined era of more functional governance. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather.
“That’s the only reason” to vote for the budget deal — “to calm things down,” said Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.), who said she was undecided about the measure. “To reset the debate is a great way to describe it.”
The only sign of trouble came from arch-conservatives who routinely buck House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). But they acknowledged that their government-shrinking priorities had been abandoned in favor of Republican concerns about the Pentagon budget and political fallout from another shutdown.
“This bill is not designed to get our vote,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), an outspoken renegade first elected in the GOP landslide of 2010. “It’s designed to pass with a bipartisan vote of the House.”
Independent conservative groups with a proven ability to sway Republicans continued to batter the agreement, which would cancel half of the sharp agency cuts known as the sequester in the current fiscal year and replace them with a mix of fees and other savings. On Wednesday, Chris Chocola, president of the conservative Club for Growth, complained that the plan “swaps debt reduction today and next year for the dubious promise of debt reduction a decade from now.”
But Boehner fired back during a brief news conference Wednesday, suggesting that the Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America and other groups were vilifying a reasonable proposal to fuel their own fundraising campaigns.
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said. “This is ridiculous.”
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