Appearing in no mood for an dramatic standoff so close to the presidential election, House and Senate leaders are on the verge of passing a new budget that will slightly raise government spending and pay for government operations through next March.
In the past, House and Senate Republicans had used the budget talks as a way of calling attention to government spending and showing their constituents back home that they are putting up a valiant effort to keep spending down. These budget battles, which brought the government close to shut down last summer, have become especially protracted in the era of the Tea Party, whose members came to Washington with the vow to drastically reduce government spending at all costs, with no compromises acceptable.
The tentative agreement, which still has to be presented on the floor for a vote, raises the spending level slightly above the current level that was agreed to last summer as part of the memorable struggle to raise the debt ceiling, which was an ugly another partisan standoff that had President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner saying nasty things about each other.
An agreement on this budget allows both sides to forestall any distraction from the election, so they can get back to the mudslinging and name calling.
“Lame-duck sessions traditionally do not produce results grounded in good government,” Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, told the New York Times. “Consequently, the less we do in lame duck, the better off our fellow citizens are.”
Still, though there is a desire on both sides to avoid an ugly fight, not every rank-and-file Republicans is going to vote for the spending bill since it does slightly raise government spending, which is like a poison pill for many Republicans.
But the spending agreement may represent a rare moment of political harmony, regardless of the reasons for it.
“This agreement reached between the Senate, the House and the White House provides stability for the coming months,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said, “when we will have to resolve critical issues that directly affect middle-class families.”