Speaker John Boehner is pressing ahead with one last deal as he heads for the exits, pushing to finalize a far-reaching, two-year budget agreement with President Barack Obama before handing Congress’ top job over to Rep. Paul Ryan this week, congressional officials said Monday.
The budget pact, in concert with a must-pass increase in the federal borrowing limit, would solve the thorniest issues awaiting Ryan (R-Wis.), who is set to be elected speaker on Thursday. It would also take budget showdowns and government shutdown fights off the table until after the 2016 presidential election, a potential boon to Republican candidates who might otherwise face uncomfortable questions in Congress.
Congress must raise the federal borrowing limit by Nov. 3 or risk a first-ever default, while money to pay for government operations runs out Dec. 11 unless Congress acts. The emerging framework would give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies two years of budget relief in exchange for cuts elsewhere in the budget.
The measure under discussion would suspend the current $18.1 trillion debt limit through March 2017. After that it would be reset by the Treasury Department to reflect borrowing over that time.
The emerging budget side of the deal resembles a pact that Ryan himself put together two years ago in concert with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that eased automatic spending cuts for the 2014–2015 budget years. A lot of conservatives disliked the measure and many on the GOP’s right flank are likely to oppose the new one, which would apply to the 2016-2017 budget years.