Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Easily Passes Senate; Obama Hails as a 'Good First Step'

Some lawmakers, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, opposed the plan because it hiked spending levels above those called for under sequestration. McConnell said the Budget Control Act, which established the process, “was designed to cut spending in the short and long term, and I remain convinced that Congress should continue to adhere to the fiscal restraints it set.”

But supporters maintained the deal was necessary to avoid a shutdown of the federal government like that one that occurred in October when factions were unable to agree to a budget entering the 2014 fiscal year. That 16-day closure ultimately led to a stopgap spending plan due to expire on Jan. 15. It also created the conference committee, led by Murray and Ryan, charged with coming up with an acceptable compromise.

Murray said the deal doesn’t satisfy most of her ambitions but failing to arrive at an agreement with Ryan would have resulted in “another continuing resolution that would have locked in the automatic cuts or worse, a potential government shutdown in just a few short weeks.”

“The American people are sick and tired of the constant crises we’ve seen here in D.C. over the past few years,” Murray said. “They want us to work together, solve some problems, and focus on jobs, families, and broad-based economic growth. That’s why I am so glad that we are headed to a final vote on the budget agreement Chairman Ryan and I reached, that breaks through the partisanship and gridlock, and shows that Congress can function when Democrats and Republicans work together to make some compromises for the good of the country.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, complained that Reid rushed the bill through without allowing any amendments that could have addressed some of the measure’s shortcomings, assuring that “we are left with a tax-and-spend plan.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), reported to be considering a presidential run in 2016, said the budget bill “exemplifies what is wrong with Washington.”

“Nothing is getting fixed,” he said. “No important reforms are being addressed. The people get little in return except more debt, more taxes, and no change to the Obamacare disaster. The Senate majority voted to allow Sen. Reid to ignore all Republican amendments. Over and over, this is the roughshod style of leadership that characterizes this Senate and underscores why Washington badly needs to listen to the people."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted for cloture but opposed final passage of the bill because “it avoids the federal government’s most urgent need -- reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending.”

“Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions, and the air transportation system,” Alexander said. “It is particularly troubling that the budget agreement takes money from pensions in a way that treats military retirees worse than the civilian federal employees.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who also broke ranks with most GOP lawmakers on Tuesday to allow a final vote on the budget measure, wound up voting against it on Wednesday.

“While I admire the effort to craft a compromise and believe the Senate needed an opportunity to debate this bill, I simply couldn't support a budget agreement that trades spending increases today for potential spending cuts years down the road,” Flake said. “We've seen that movie before and we know how it ends."