Morning Action: President Obama Pleased with Passage of Ryan-Murray Spending Increase

BUDGET.  The Senate cleared the Ryan-Murray spending increase Wednesday (sub. req’d):

The two-year bipartisan budget deal cleared the Senate on Wednesday, moving Congress closer to a cease-fire in the ongoing fiscal wars since 2011.

Senators voted 64-36 to endorse the House-passed measure (H J Res 59) that would eliminate $63 billion of sequestration cuts and set top-line spending for fiscal 2014 at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion in fiscal 2015. Stopgap funding that will expire Jan. 15 (PL 113-46) establishes spending at an annualized rate of $986 billion.

Nine Republicans joined all 53 Democrats and two independents to support the legislation. The House passed the measure last week 332-94.

In a statement, President Barack Obama praised the passage of the budget deal that now heads to his desk.

“I thank Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate who have worked hard to get this budget done and look forward to the Congress sending me bills that fund our government and refrain from fighting old ideological battles,” Obama said.

Conservatives objected to this deal, which is harmful to taxpayers, reduces leverage for future spending fights, and undoes part of the sequester spending cuts.

OMNIBUS.  With the passage of the budget deal, House and Senate appropriators will now develop and omnibus spending package for the remainder of fiscal 2014 (sub. req’d):

The Senate’s passage of the budget agreement starts a new clock running for appropriators to reconcile differences between the chambers on the spending bills they will use to craft an omnibus aimed at funding the government through the last eight months of the 2014 fiscal year.

The Senate passed the budget deal (H J Res 59) late Wednesday, 64-36. Appropriators now have the green light to formally begin negotiations over the holiday recess by dividing up some $498.1 billion in domestic discretionary spending, setting what are called 302(b) allocations that provide the blueprint for government operations.

The budget agreement, which passed in the House last week and now goes to the president’s desk, caps federal discretionary spending for fiscal 2014 at $1.012 trillion, including $520.5 billion for defense, and temporarily postpones the across-the-board cuts mandated under the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 112-25).

DOC FIX.  The Senate passed a three-month payment patch for Medicare physician payments as part of the budget deal (sub. req’d):

The patch gives lawmakers a little breathing room by blocking a scheduled 24 percent payment cut in reimbursement rates for Medicare physicians that otherwise would begin Jan. 1 under the sustainable growth rate formula. It also provides a 0.5 percent increase in the payment rates.

Lawmakers say they will return in January ready to complete work on the SGR replacement bills after taking a short break now. The biggest question – and the one that needs to be addressed first – is how to pay for the cost of each bill before it comes to the floor.

Heritage Action explained:

The bill thus falls well short of being fully offset, and would in fact increase the deficit by $1.8 billion.

Lawmakers know that is an issue to be dealt with(sub. req’d):

Lawmakers say they will return in January ready to complete work on the SGR replacement bills after taking a short break now. The biggest question – and the one that needs to be addressed first – is how to pay for the cost of each bill before it comes to the floor.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said he was happy with the progress so far but “of course, the payfor is going to be the question.”

When asked if discussions about the offset were currently going on, Baucus said, “A little, but more people, to be honest about it, are talking about getting out of town.”

POLL.  67 percent of Americans say they would delay Obamacare, and 53 percent say that would vote to repeal it:

The number of voters who want implementation of the law delayed continues to grow. The new poll shows 67 percent think it should be postponed a year “until more details are ironed out.” That’s up four percentage points since last month — and up 10 points since October. 

Those favoring a delay also now include a majority of Democrats: 54 percent support delaying implementation. That’s up 10 points from 44 percent last month. 

Overall, by a 54-38 percent margin, people wish the health care law had never passed and the 2009 system were still in place. 

Similarly, 53 percent would vote to repeal the law if given the chance, while 41 percent would keep it. 

JOBLESS CLAIMS.  Jobless claims have risen to a near nine-month high:

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly nine months, casting a shadow on the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level since March and marked the second straight week that claims have risen.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 334,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 13,250 to 343,500.


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