TERRE HAUTE —
The federal budget agreement reached last week in the U.S. House of Representatives was the “best deal we could achieve,” says U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-8th.
Bucshon, a Newburgh doctor, was among 169 Republicans in the House to vote for the budget proposal, while 62 opposed it. The budget passed the House with 163 Democratic votes in favor and 32 against.
The Democratic-led U.S. Senate was expected to approve the bill no later than today, the Associated Press reported. The bill would then go to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
The Senate advanced the measure on Tuesday over a filibuster threshold on a 67-33 vote, AP reported.
The AP also said: “The measure would ease some of the harshest cuts to agency budgets required under automatic spending curbs commonly known as sequestration. It would replace $45 billion in scheduled cuts for the 2014 budget year already under way, lifting agency budgets to a little more than $1 trillion, and it also would essentially freeze spending at those levels for 2015. It substitutes other spending cuts and new fees to replace the automatic cuts and devotes a modest $23 billion to reducing the deficit over the coming decade.”
In voting for the budget bill, Bucshon fell in line behind House Speaker John Boehner — who lashed out against tea party-aligned conservative groups after Republicans opposed the budget deal. Boehner claimed those conservatives sought to push the House farther to the right than the Republican leadership has been willing to go.
“I don’t comment on what other members of the House think on an issue,” Bucshon said. “However, I think everyone has a right to voice their own opinion, and sometimes I agree with the House Speaker and sometimes not. Sometimes I agree with these [groups].”
Bucshon voted for the current budget agreement, as it also includes Department of Defense budget measures that would favor the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Crane, he said.
“I voted to pass the farm bill in this Congress because our agriculture community needs the certainty that comes with it,” Bucshon said. “I also supported the most recent budget deal because, while it’s far from perfect, I believe, with Washington, D.C., controlled by Democrats, this is the best deal we could achieve.
“It reduces spending, mitigates the unmanageable, across-the-board defense cuts with changes to our mandatory spending, avoids the risk of a government shutdown, and reclaims Congress’ power of the purse,” he said.
Bucshon said he has also voted against measures backed by the House leader, but supported by more conservative groups.
For instance, Bucshon said he opposed an agreement in October to end a government shutdown as it did not, in his view, have enough tax savings.
“I did not support the deal to … raise the debt ceiling, because the plan failed to offer any changes in our long-term spending trajectory, include any reforms to our mandatory spending programs, or repeal, defund or delay the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
“In the fiscal debate late last year, I could not support the end compromise because it included over $1 trillion in tax increases. Most outside conservative groups supported my position on these votes; the Speaker did not,” Bucshon said.
“As you can see, there is no consistent pattern here,” he said. “I weigh each individual vote on its merits and how it will impact the constituents I represent. My only concern is whether or not these votes are in the best interest of the Eighth District, and ultimately I believe they are.”
Asked if he thinks Boehner’s comments show how difficult it has become for the GOP to push for tax and spending policies in its own party, Bucshon replied, “As conservatives, I think we mostly agree on similar goals, like limiting government overreach in our daily lives, spending within our means, balancing our nation’s budget, achieving a fair tax code for everyone and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“However, I do believe, at times, we can disagree on the strategy on exactly how we get there,” Bucshon said.