In a year that began with a failed coup attempt against House Speaker John Boehner, and then saw him pushed around by outside conservative groups that demanded a government shutdown in the fight against the Obama health law, the Speaker had the last laugh as the House easily approved a bipartisan budget deal by a vote of 332-94.
“If you’re for cutting the size of government, you should be supporting this budget,” Boehner said on the House floor.
Earlier, he had again blasted more conservative GOP groups that were trying to derail the agreement.
“I just think they’ve lost all credibility,” said Boehner in a very aggravated tone.
In the end, the real linchpin for this budget deal was not Boehner, but House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who is trusted by Republicans of all stripes – and that was proven by this House vote.
“Look, if I’m going to trust anyone up here on the budget, it’s Paul Ryan,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), who went from a solid “No” vote on the deal to casting a vote for it.
Westmoreland’s home state delegation was a perfect example, as it swung 10-3 in favor of the deal, bringing along Republicans who at first blush would have seemed unlikely supporters, like Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) who was front and center in the push to defund the Obama health law.
“This deal isn’t great and it isn’t terrible,” Graves said in a written statement.
“The bottom line is that it reduces the deficit by $23 billion over the next decade without raising taxes—that’s a better deal for taxpayers than current law.”
The 94 votes against the plan, 62 from Republicans and 32 from Democrats, were a smattering of more liberal and more conservative lawmakers, united in this case for a variety of different political reasons.
“Ideally, we would like to shoot the moon and cut all this wasteful spending out,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who voted against the deal.
“It’s a tough sell for me to increase spending now for a promise of future spending reductions,” said another freshmen opposed to the agreement, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
In the end, those voices were overwhelmed by Republians who felt like it was time to move forward – even if the deal didn’t do very much.
“It just shows that we can come together as a body politic and do something that hasn’t been done in five years, and that is pass a budget,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL).
“There are going to be folks who want a perfect piece of legislation, and in this town, perfect does not exist,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL).
For Speaker Boehner, it was a welcome result. He ends the year seemingly in a much stronger position with his conference, giving off a the feeling that he was calling the shots, not outside groups demanding ideological purity within the Republican Party.