The majority of Kentucky’s congressional delegates approved of a two-year budget agreement Thursday that will avoid a federal government shutdown.
In a bipartisan 332-94 vote, House members favored a deal brokered by Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Democratic Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray.
It seeks to relieve some of the automatic cuts known as sequestration while reducing the country’s deficit by projected $23 billion over the next decade, but the Murray-Ryan deal was criticized by members of both parties.
All but one of Kentucky’s six House members voted in favor of the measure. In a series of statements, there was general agreement that the Ryan-Murray compromise is better than a government shutdown or legislation by crisis.
“This bipartisan budget compromise is far from perfect, but it will resolve another immediate threat of shutdown and lessen the impact of radical cuts to education, medical research, and other key federal investments that strengthen Louisville families and bolster our economy,” says Third District Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat. “Congress needs to move beyond legislation by self-imposed crisis, and this is a start.”
The Ryan-Murray plan did restore about $45 billion in sequestration slashes, but many Democrats argued that wasn’t enough. Liberal advocates against the compromise argue it continues to hurt the poor through domestic cuts to programs such as Head Start and fails to extend unemployment benefits beyond Dec. 28.
Several GOP lawmakers and conservative groups said the deal capitulated on spending cuts, but some Republican leaders—namely Speaker John Boehner—have lashed out at activist organizations.
Kentucky Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie says he would like to see deeper cuts in spending along with entitlement and tax reform, but this was a better option than “repeated brinkmanship.”
“I continue to hear from people who are tired of Congress lurching from one flash point to the next, failing to work together to improve America’s economy. I know I am tired of it, and today’s vote moves us toward that objective,” he says. “We have divided government and that usually means not everyone gets everything they want, and that’s true today.”
A family in Guthrie’s district is featured in a Washington Post story about how winners and losers were divided in the face of major cuts. The newspaper found sequestration—which Guthrie voted for—eliminated Head Start for 57,000 children while other services with heavy lobbying hands weren’t touched.
Republican Congressman Todd Young, who represents the bulk of Southern Indiana, also voted for the bill, saying it “leaves much to be desired, but is a good first step.”
But Kentucky Fourth District Congressman Thomas Massie, a freshman Republican, rejected the proposal. He slammed “establishment politicians” for having a spending addiction problem.
“This deal trades spending increases in 2014 and 2015 for spending reductions in 2022 and 2023,” says Massie. “I hate to use the cliché, but Congress is becoming a cliché by ‘kicking the can down the road’ once again.”
The measure now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is expected Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul will vote against the plan.