Politics blog

Washington's House delegation votes in unison for federal budget deal

OlympianDecember 12, 2013 

In the end, the budget vote in the U.S. House was lopsided – 332 to 94 – and Washington state’s six Democratic and four Republican representatives all voted for the roughly $1 trillion-a-year federal spending plan. Many put out statements that it was an imperfect two-year budget measure but ends across the board cuts and avoids further government shutdowns. 

The deal put together by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., does not include an extension of unemployment benefits that some Democrats wanted.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, the 10th district Democrat from Olympia whose district runs from University Place to Shelton, put out this statement:

“The bipartisan budget deal passed by the U.S. House today is not perfect. However, it will provide needed stability for the U.S. economy and the federal government for at least the next two years. It will finally take us off the hamster wheel of economic crisis after economic crisis. That’s something that must happen if we want to boost job growth and get our economy growing again. "I like that the Murray-Ryan deal includes significant relief from sequestration. That’s important for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the thousands of civilian workers who were furloughed earlier this year due to sequestration cuts. It’s also important for vulnerable people and families who utilize services like Meals on Wheels and Head Start, both of which were scaled back due to sequestration. I also like that the deal reformed the cap on the salaries that can be paid by federal contractors to employees working on government contracts. That’s a commonsense provision that will save taxpayers money.

"I don’t like the modifications that were made to federal civilian and military retirement benefits. Our service members, military families and civilian workers serve our country admirably and deserve to have financial security when they end their public service.

"I want to commend our state’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, for her hard work putting this bipartisan compromise together. Our state has relied on her steady, solid leadership for more than twenty years. Her willingness to negotiate and compromise in good faith should serve as a model for all Members of Congress next year and into the future.”

 

Like Heck, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, the Gig Harbor Democrat whose 6th district runs from Tacoma onto the Olympic Peninsula, is pushing for an unemployment insurance extension in a separate bill. He said the agreement avoids a government shutdown and gives relief from across-the-board spending cuts:

“While there are parts of this budget I don’t like, I have spent the last year calling on my colleagues to set aside their partisan differences and pass a budget.  I’m encouraged that Democrats and Republicans have found a way to work together, help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Congress must now continue to work together on a plan that deals with our long-term fiscal health and grows our economy so we can get folks back to work.”  

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, the Bellevue Democrat whose 9th district reaches into Tacoma, put out this statement:

“This budget deal, while not perfect, is a small step forward. It provides two years of relief from sequestration for the Department of Defense as well as other vitally important portions of the discretionary budget, such as education, technology, housing, transportation and Head Start.  Sequestration has been wreaking havoc on these critical programs, and this deal provides some relief. “The deal also provides some space for Congress to begin to function normally again.  It will help to avert political standoffs that threaten to shut the government down and it will offer some much-needed support for our government and economy.  I am hopeful that greater certainty will allow us to focus on what is important for the American people, such as policies that support the middle class and grow our economy.

“Today’s budget deal marks a beginning, not an end.  There is much more work to be done. Our debt and deficit are still unsustainable in the long-term, and we desperately need forward thinking policies that continue to address our budget issues in a comprehensive way that raises revenue and reduces spending.  I thank Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan for working in a bipartisan way, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to find long-term solutions that reflect our priorities of making a stronger middle class and expanding economic opportunity.”

 

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Camas Republican whose 3rd district takes in a sliver of south Thurston County, said:

"During the shutdown in October I said we needed to stop governing from crisis to crisis in Congress. The first step to moving beyond this destructive pattern is to pass a budget, and so today I supported this budget proposal that maintains cost savings and cuts the federal deficit without new taxes.  “By passing this legislation, we also will return to a more normal form of budgeting.  Instead of jumping to each crisis with short term budgets which hand too much control over to the executive branch, Congress now will be able to work together on rational long-term decisions about where and how American’s tax dollars are best saved and spent.

“While this deal does not include everything I would have liked, in a divided government, working together to solve our country’s problems is a necessity.  Congressman Ryan and Senator Murray were able to find common ground without sacrificing core principles.  In fact, this deal is the first bipartisan budget reached in a divided Congress since 1986.  I am hopeful that this deal will provide momentum to take on bigger issues going forward.”

 

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, said the measure also avoids a 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors that would have taken effect Jan. 1. He said, in part:

“The agreement takes decisive action to reduce the deficit, eases the impact of the sequester, and places no new tax burdens on the American people.  Instead of the indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts of the sequester, the bill eliminates waste, fraud, and abuse in current government programs.  For example, the bill includes provisions from the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, which I chair, that would improve the collection of unemployment insurance overpayments and take steps to make sure that inmates aren’t receiving government benefits while in jail."   

 

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