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January 20, 2018

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The Policy Racket

Lawmakers approve Reid, Boehner budget compromise

After weeks of wrangling, the debate over the present year's budget is finally over.

The House voted 260-167 and the Senate 87-12 to approve the budget compromise Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner hashed out late Friday night that will slash $38.5 billion from current spending levels.

But the spirit of bipartisan compromise only went so far during Thursday's vote. In the House, 59 Republicans -- about half of them freshmen -- and 108 Democrats -- including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- voted against the budget bill in the House, and 12 senators voted against it as well.

The Nevada delegation split on the budget vote, though not entirely along party lines. Reid and House Reps. Shelley Berkley, Democrat, and Joe Heck, Republican, voted in favor of the budget. Republican Sen. John Ensign and House Rep. Dean Heller voted against it, each basing his decision on the critique that the bill didn't do enough to tackle the country's mounting deficit.

The resolution of this round means a little belt-tightening for the rest of the fiscal year, and that the threat of a shutdown is off the table at least for a few weeks, though not necessarily through the fiscal year's end on September.

The House turns its attention to fiscal 2012 tomorrow, when the body is expected to vote on a budget proposal from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. It's expected to pass, but do little to bring about a resolution to the greater fiscal standoff: Democrats and the President are far too opposed to the provisions scaling back Medicaid and converting Medicare into a subsidez voucher program not to put up a passionate fight.

But long before that's resolved, lawmakers will have to address the debt ceilingn, which the Treasury department predicts will be met in the next several weeks. If it is, without being raised, that will effectively shut down the government as the absence of a budget would have.

Reid and Boehner have not agreed on a way forward there yet.

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