In rare bipartisan action, Congress approves $1.1 trillion budget
January 16th, 2014
06:20 PM ET
3 months ago

In rare bipartisan action, Congress approves $1.1 trillion budget

Updated 7:46 p.m. ET, 1/16/2014

(CNN) – The Senate on Thursday easily passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September and sent it to President Barack Obama, a notable departure from chronic, partisan-fueled budget battles in recent years that included the government shutdown last October.

The decisive vote, 72-to-26, concluded congressional action that for the first time since 2012 determined federal spending agency by agency instead of through temporary stopgap measures that spotlighted the divisiveness in Washington.

Seventeen Republicans joined 55 Democrats in supporting the legislation.

The House approved the budget measure on Wednesday in another strong bipartisan vote, 359-to-67.

"With very few exceptions we've heard nothing but positive comments from my colleagues here in the Senate," Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, said on the Senate floor as the vote neared.

Democrats were just as eager to brag about the budget as an example of a Congress that can indeed function.

"These efforts show that we Democrats and Republicans can work together for the good of the country," said one of the people most responsible for the bill, Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat. "We can avoid drama ... fiscal cliffs and shutdowns."

The sweeping bill hits nearly every corner of government. It includes a 1 percent pay increase for troops and a 1 percent cost-of-living boost for federal workers.

Obama is expected to sign the measure.

In recent years, must-pass funding bills have been flashpoints for epic battles over health care, the deficit and social policies from contraception to abortion.

As a result, Congress punted most key spending decisions by extending past funding bills, allowing sweeping spending cuts to take effect and failing to decide what agencies needed funding increasing and what ones needed cuts.

But following the government shutdown in October, Republican and Democratic leaders took a different approach following last October's government shutdown, tempering partisan rhetoric in public and discussing compromise in private.

Both sides made tradeoffs in the end.

Democrats won - and Republicans conceded - on continued funding for Obamacare as well as large spending increases for Head Start and mental health programs.

Republicans gained - and Democrats lost - on continued budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS.

Other highlights:

* Disabled veterans and some veteran's families will be protected from a pension cut slated for younger military retirees.

* Funding will increase and budget cuts will be reversed for: the FBI, mental health programs, the Army Corps of Engineers, cybersecurity programs, the Social Security Administration, Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

* Budget-cut levels will continue for: Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Education, Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

* The bill freezes a program to phase-out inefficient incandescent lightbulbs. Though manufactures have told CNN they make stop making the bills regardless.

* Secretary of State John Kerry must certify that Libya is working to find those behind the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in 2012 before before any funding can go to Tripoli.

* The bill bans any spending on official portraits and freezes many top government salaries, including the Vice President's.

While the bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, not everyone was cheering.

"I cannot support a funding bill that violates the only real progress we have made in getting our fiscal house in order over the past several years," Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker wrote in a statement following his "no" vote.

Corker and others questioned the bill's use of long-term savings to increase spending over the next nine months.

Another source of anger: the relatively quick timeline from the unveiling of the bill late Monday to final passage Thursday.

"We were given but a day to review this 1,582 page document ... this reflects its own shortcomings," wrote South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford.

Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said it was "staggering" that the bill flew "through the Capitol like a greased pig."


Filed under: Budget • Congress
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Just

    A thousand billion. Has a nice taxpayer ring to it.

    January 16, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. Steve Johnson

    Election year posturing. They don't want to appear as worthless as they actually have been for the past 4 years.

    January 16, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. st. colbert

    wow. congratulations for doing your job! maybe tomorrow morning i'll have a press release before i leave for work. "today i showered, shaved, and got dress. and now i head to work. i believe these efforts show that i can and i am able to go to work, thankfully. without drama or quitting my job." fine. now pass UI extensions. wait. take a vacation first. then comeback and pass the bill, once you're well rested. 2 weeks back to back after the holidays. you deserve a vacation...... and it's the american people who are lazy?

    January 16, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  4. Abraham Lincoln

    Wonderful. More money wasted. I don't see America being around 50 years from now if it keeps this up.

    January 16, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. termlimits

    Repeal dodd, frank now. Financial crisis caused by govt instead of deregulation. It smothers economic growth.reduce the corporate tax to 20%. Freed said the depression was caused by fed reserve monetary policy in the 60s. Get it right chair warmers!

    January 16, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    It's an election year. This is why this got passed. Both parties are a disgrace.

    January 16, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  7. everythinghastobeaboutyou

    "Though manufactures have told CNN they make stop making the bills regardless."

    I hope this wasn't the actual wording. Who else knows what's in there? Haha

    January 16, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    I cannot believe some of the crap republicans put in this. Acorn, Vatican Embassy move, drones, Boehner pork,, etc. it is a veritable wish list of made up garbage from the head of the GOP, Fox News.

    January 16, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. rosethornne

    A budget-like object? Really?

    Oh my.

    January 16, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  10. sammy750

    President Obama should veto this bill since it takes funds away from the EPA. The Republicans are trying to defund those organizations created to protect the people.

    January 17, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  11. Scott

    Good. Now the President needs to sign.

    2014 won't be about a shutdown.

    Nice and clean, Obamacare, Benghazi, NSA, IRS, Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc.

    January 17, 2014 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  12. Scott

    Prove it with jobs Mr. President.

    January 17, 2014 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  13. Marie MD

    Some teaklan went on record saying that those apposing the bill had not read it.
    Not sure if that is true or not but how dare we think that these fools will read a bill when they are too busy taking vacation days and spending their time on "social media" silliness.

    January 17, 2014 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  14. TomInRochNY

    "Republicans gained – and Democrats lost – on continued budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS."

    Now WV has a toxic environmental problem that has been building for years. But, they cut funding for the EPA. Hhhmmm . . .

    January 17, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
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