WASHINGTON — The House easily approved a bipartisan budget deal Thursday that would avert another government shutdown next month and beef up spending for the military and domestic programs that were slated for more cuts.
The vote was 332-94, with a majority of both parties in support. Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore; James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City; and Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, voted for it. Reps. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, both freshmen, voted against it.
The Senate is planning to vote on the deal next week, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. Funding for most government operations runs out Jan. 15.
The agreement would prevent about $22 billion in cuts to the Pentagon in the current fiscal year and give another $22 billion in relief to government programs ranging from education to federal public defenders.
Lucas called the deal “a step in the right direction to getting Congress back to the regular order of passing annual appropriations bills.
“It will cut our federal deficit by billions of dollars, without raising taxes and prevent future government shutdowns. Additionally, it will avoid the sharp and indiscriminate cuts to the Department of Defense that are scheduled to take place as a result of the sequester.”
Mullin said, “As a business owner, I could not in good faith support legislation that increases spending and fails to achieve a balanced budget. For our country to move forward and get out of the hole we are in, we must focus on reining in spending and decreasing the size of government.”
Democrats complained that the bill did not extend federal unemployment benefits to about 1.3 million people who have been jobless for several months; those benefits are set to expire at the end of this month.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said it was “unconscionable” that the benefits weren't extended, and he and other Democrats said Congress should take up the matter when it returns next year. Hoyer said the deal also did nothing to address the debt limit, which is expected to be reached some time in the first quarter of 2014.