The PJ Tatler

Lawmakers Begin Taking Sides on Ryan-Murray Budget Agreement

As the sun rose over Washington today, supporters and allies began picking sides over the budget agreement announced last night by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“It is increasingly obvious that success – particularly in divided government – has to be measured in positive steps, not leaps and bounds,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “But in doing so, the American people expect their elected officials to find common ground without sacrificing the principles we hold dear. This agreement – more than $20 billion in deficit reduction compared to current law with zero tax increases – reflects both that common ground and our conservative principles.”

“Moving forward, the manner in which spending reductions occur will not be based on arbitrary cuts that usurp the proper role of Congress in determining the nation’s budget priorities,” he added. “Instead, this package relies on smarter cuts and common sense reforms, which make incremental progress toward the ultimate goal – a smaller, more efficient and accountable Washington.”

“I think the important piece to this deal, and yes it is a modest deal, is we maintain the savings of the sequester. Remember the sequester was in place because a supercommittee back two years ago failed to come up with an agreement,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “What this is, is an agreement on less than 10% of that sequester money – that $1.2 trillion. The savings are maintained and what we’ve always said was we need the savings in the mandatory, the entitlement, the auto pilot spending arena. And the savings that are inside this budget deal really are primarily derived from reforms to the pension benefits for federal employees.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), though, called the agreement “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

“I think it’s a huge mistake to trade sequester cuts now, for the promise of cuts later,” Paul said. “The small sequester spending cuts were not nearly enough to address our deficit problem. Undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed. I cannot support a budget that raises taxes and never balances, nor can I support a deal that does nothing to reduce our nation’s $17.3 trillion debt.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said the deal “accomplishes perhaps the most important thing it could have: temporarily curbing the destructive nature of the reckless sequester.”

“While I do not agree with everything in this agreement, compromise was the only way an agreement was even possible. It is regrettable, for example, that federal workers will see their pensions trimmed as a means of finding cost savings, and that the agreement did not include an extension of unemployment insurance, but any deal that could pass in both chambers would require both sides to accept choices with which it may not agree,” Coons said. “Shared sacrifice was inevitable and necessary, and to pretend otherwise would be to continue an unproductive trend in our recent political history.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) called the deal “far from perfect, but it provides relief from sequestration for critical education, housing, and transportation programs.”

“It is a step in the right direction to get Congress back on track and focused on what is important to the American people,” Smith said. “I thank Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan for their hard work and willingness to compromise. This is only the beginning. Far more work remains to be done.”