ShareThis Page

Congress averts shutdown, for now

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

Congress has approved a short-term funding measure, preventing the chance of a federal government shutdown next week.

A broader battle over taxes and spending for the year, though, is just beginning.

The House gave final approval Thursday, in a bipartisan 318-109 vote, to a continued-funding resolution that outlines spending through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The resolution assures that the government would stay open when the current funding measure expires March 27.

The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday. The legislation goes to President Obama for his signature, ending a relatively smooth and drama-free process for a Congress that has repeatedly deadlocked on spending issues.

The resolution, however, covers only the next six months.

Lawmakers still are debating how much to tax and spend for the years to come. On Thursday, the House approved a budget blueprint by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in a mostly partisan 221-207 vote. Ten Republicans joined House Democrats in opposing the Ryan budget measure.

Ryan's plan calls for balancing the budget over the decade by slicing $5 trillion from spending, including block-grant programs for the poor and overhauling Medicare for people 54 and younger. The plan would incorporate $600 billion in tax hikes approved by Congress over Republican objections as part of the year-end fiscal cliff fight.

“They are sticking to the status quo — more taxing, more spending, more borrowing,” Ryan said on the House floor on Thursday morning, referring to Democrats and urging passage of his plan. “This budget recognizes that concern for the poor is not measured by how much money we spend in Washington but, instead, how many people we get out of poverty.”

Democrats slammed Ryan's plan as too austere — particularly its proposal to end Medicare as a guaranteed benefit for seniors. They said voters defeated that idea in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

“The American people voted, and they resoundingly rejected the approach that is now taken once again, for the third year in a row, in this Republican budget,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Trying to reconcile Republicans' and Democrats' visions will consume Washington in the coming months, as the nation again hits the federal borrowing limit this summer, requiring congressional action to keep the country from defaulting on its spending obligations.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.