Ensuring the nation’s financial stability—at least until September—Congress approved a federal budget bill first hammered out between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders last week to avert a government shutdown.
While the measure drew bipartisan support, passing through the House in a 260 to 167 vote and the Senate in a 81 to 19 vote, it also saw staunch opposition from both political caucuses, according to The Huffington Post.
Some liberals wrote off the proposed cuts as too stringent, especially those involving programs for lower-income Americans, while staunch conservatives said the trims didn’t go far enough.
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., an Illinois Democrat, said he voted against the measure because it “keeps the government open on the backs of the poor and unemployed.
“Over the last 30 years, voodoo economics, supply-side, trickle down tax cuts have yet to prove they can create economic growth, much less jobs, yet Republicans continue to double down on this theory and the 25 million unemployed and underemployed Americans continue to pay for that ill advised wager,” he said in a statement.
Jackson also disagreed with the plan’s retention of $690 billion in tax cuts for the nation’s most wealthy. Obama proposed to reduce breaks for those Americans last February, but faced resistance from conservatives.
The spending compromise slashes $38 billion in funding by eliminating millions to community health centers, billions to the high speed rail program, and curbs funding to several discretionary and mandatory divisions.
Over half of the budget’s cuts affect health, labor and education programs, according to California Health Line.
It even tightens strings in the nation’s capital, reviving a GOP-supported education voucher plan and preventing the District from using federal funds to support abortions. The plan prompted Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. leaders to hold a protest on Capitol Hill, which ended with Gray and 40 others in jail.
The green light from both chambers sent the spending plan to Obama’s desk, and he was expected to sign the bill into law.
The plan is the result of several weeks of negotiations, and although it put an end to months of anxiety about the nation’s budget for the remainder of the fiscal year—which ends Sept. 30—it set the stage for more intense discussions about the nation’s funding levels.
This year’s budget deficit exceeds $1.6 trillion. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) has developed a way to reduce the budget gap by roughly $6 trillion over 10 years, slash the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition and a pay freeze and rollback of domestic programs to the 2008 spending levels while transforming Medicare for people 54 and younger into a voucher program, which he said would encourage subsidized purchases of private insurance plans.
A GOP-dominated House cleared the Ryan plan on the afternoon of April 15, but it was not expected to pass the Senate.
“The biggest threat to Medicare is the status quo and the people defending it,” Ryan told the Associated Press. He said his plan would reduce the federal government’s annual deficits below the $400 billion range over 10 years.
Budget analysts contend the aging baby-boomer population will send the already spiraling health care safety net costs deeper into red ink.
In a White House Press Office written statement, the Obama Administration stated “We all know there are tough challenges ahead, from growing our economy to reducing our deficit, but we must build on this bipartisan compromise to tackle these issues and meet the expectations of the American people.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus commended House Speaker Boehner and Republicans for “going toe-to-toe with Democrat leadership who he says “don’t want to cut spending and would rather raise taxes on hardworking Americans.”
“This is a positive first step in the fight to restore fiscal sanity in Washington so we can move to tackling Paul Ryan’s historic budget that provides real, specific solutions for our economic future,” Priebus said in a prepared statement.