The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

December 16, 2013

Budget deal may signal era of tiny achievements

(Continued)

Both Murray and Ryan were interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Some lawmakers see the glass half full. They hope the budget deal will cool partisan passions in 2014 and beyond.

“Maybe it’s something we can build on,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “Success begets success, and trust builds trust.”

One possible area of renewed effort is a proposed immigration overhaul. The Democratic-run Senate passed a version this year, but the Republican-controlled House has stalled it.

Advocates talk of a possible piecemeal House approach. But Democrats and Republicans are divided on whether millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be given a path to citizenship. Some influential lawmakers say the budget deal doesn’t necessarily brighten prospects elsewhere.

“I don’t see that this is a clear channel for us to move to immigration,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the House Rules Committee. “I don’t think that’s what this was about.”

Sessions said he hopes the House-passed measure will stave off future budget fights “with a little more certainty, where we can aim at Obamacare, and its impact on the economy and jobs.”

Sentiments like that suggest Washington may return quickly to divisive issues, most prominently President Barack Obama’s health law, which Republicans bitterly oppose.

The budget deal eases a harsh set of spending cuts scheduled for 2014 and 2015. But it leaves intact most of the roughly $1 trillion in automatic cuts set to hit the military, domestic agencies and Medicare providers through 2021.

Replacing the cuts would be new money from, among other things, higher airline security fees, reductions in pension benefits for working-age military retirees, and higher pension costs for employers and new federal workers hired after the end of this year.

The deal does little to dent the nation’s $17 trillion debt. It is meant instead to halt a pattern of lunging from one financial crisis to the next because of Congress’ growing inclination to resist compromise, a trend quickened by the tea party’s rise in 2009.

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