'Holding Noses' And Taking 'A Little, Tiny Baby Step' In DC

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Capitol Hill in Washington.(AP Photo/ Scott Applewhite, File)
There's little enthusiasm for the budget compromise worked out by House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), left, and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash). (Scott Applewhite/AP)

Pragmatism is on display, as Congress is set to approve a modest budget bill today, after three years of partisan deadlock. There is little enthusiasm for the compromise budget agreement worked out by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Fiscal conservatives say it doesn't do much to reduce government spending in either the short or long term. Democrats are unhappy because the deal does not include a renewal of benefits for long-term unemployed workers. Those expanded unemployment benefits expire on Dec. 28.

The Wall Street Journal calls the agreement a "craftsmanlike monument to the power of pragmatism," saying Republicans and Democrats "staked out a narrow slice of common ground" for the simple goal of keeping the government funded.

The agreement undoes the cuts forced by the so-called sequester, and increases discretionary spending slightly, to $1.012 trillion this year and $1.014 next year. It also includes spending cuts and new revenue from fees to reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next 10 years.

Both houses are expected to approve the plan today, but with little enthusiasm. One Democrat said "I feel like punching myself in the face," another said, "I'm going to hold my nose." Both said they would vote yes. On the Republican side, Arizona's Matt Salmon called it "a baby step ... a little tiny baby step," saying his party could have bargained much harder. He predicted the bill would pass.

NPR's Tamara Keith discusses the deal with Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarty.


This segment aired on December 12, 2013.


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