WASHINGTON — Members of the House on both sides of the aisle held their noses and voted to pass a compromise budget agreement on Thursday, as both sides acknowledged that it was not all they wanted, but was perhaps the best they could get under the circumstances.
The vote passed by a wide margin, 332-94. 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats voted in favor of the budget plan; 62 Republicans and 32 Democrats voted against it.
The budget agreement was forged by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, and will now go to the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the plan would reduce deficits by approximately $85 billion over the next decade.
“We’re just happy that we’re getting this place working again,” Ryan told reporters after the vote.
“What I got from so many of my colleagues right now is they’re looking forward to 2014. They’re looking forward to getting congress working again, they’re looking forward to the appropriations process, they’re looking forward to doing, you know, the things we want to do, instead of fighting over shutdown. So we’re bringing a little bit of normalcy, we’re getting a little bit of integrity back in the system, and I think my colleagues are going home excited to come back in 2014 because they can start afresh to do the things that they came here to do,” he said.
Ryan touted the bill on the House floor Thursday before the vote, calling it “a firm step in the right direction.”
“It’s not perfect; it’s a start,” he said, adding that “in this divided government, we’re going to take the steps we can take, and this step, we think, is one in the right direction.”
When it was announced Tuesday, the proposal drew ire from some conservative members of the Republican conference who felt it did not go far enough to cut spending and taxes and immediately proclaimed that they would vote against it. Rep. Raul Labrador dubbed it “terrible,” and outside conservative groups urged members to vote against it.
Other Republicans pushed back on that view. House Speaker John Boehner defended the agreement, saying that though it was not his ideal, it “takes giant steps in the right direction.”
House Democratic leaders did not like that the bill does not extend unemployment benefits, but most reluctantly supported it, with the exception of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who voted ‘no.’
“We’re very unhappy about it,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said of Democrats at a press conference Thursday morning, The Hill reported, but she did vote for it. Politico reported that she told members Thursday that Democrats will “embrace the suck.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, also voted for it. Speaking before the vote Thursday, he called it a “positive step forward,” noting that even if the budget proposal went down, Democrats still would not get the things they wanted.
“The only thing we would accomplish by defeating this budget agreement would be to go home with a lot of uncertainty and with the sequester guaranteed to hit in January,” he said on the floor.
The White House lauded the passage of the bill, acknowledging what it saw as the bill’s shortcomings and urging further action, including extending unemployment insurance, but calling it “a positive step forward.”
“This bill does not include everything the President called for,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “But it marks an important moment of bipartisan cooperation and shows Washington can and should stop governing by crisis and both sides can work together to get things done.”
Ryan touted the bill before the vote as a rare opportunity for bipartisan agreement.
“We came here to get something done. We always lock horns, we always argue, we never agree. I think it’s about time for once in a long time we find common ground and agree,” Ryan said. “And that is what this bill does.”
A full breakdown of the votes can be found here. A full list of Republicans who voted ‘no’ follows: