WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly approved a budget deal Thursday designed to avert another
The agreement represents a victory for House Speaker
Whether the spirit of detente will extend into next year is uncertain. Congress will need to give the $85-billion package final approval next month to avert a shutdown on Jan. 15, and will then turn to the debate over whether to raise the nation's
The measure was approved, 332 to 94, by most
The Senate is expected to pass the measure in coming days despite opposition from
House conservatives have frequently bucked Boehner on budget deals, leading to the 16-day government shutdown in October that left Republicans badly damaged in polls. But most appeared to have lost their desire to push budget battles to the brink.
"I'm not going to go home and beat my chest that it's the best we could've done; I'm also not ashamed," said freshman Rep.
Even as House leaders welcomed the breakthrough after months of dysfunction, they downplayed the modest deal from a Congress whose approval ratings have plummeted to all-time lows.
"There were a lot of lessons learned over the course of this year, a lot of lessons learned over the course of the last three years, and I actually do feel like we're in a better place," Boehner said. "We're going to deal with these issues one at a time. The goal today is to get this budget agreement passed. We'll deal with the debt ceiling when we get there."
"Certainly, not achieving this would not have been a good signal," Pelosi said, "but I don't under- or overestimate the power of this one event today."
The $85-billion accord increases spending levels for the next two fiscal years beyond what conservatives wanted but less than Democrats had sought.
It reverses $63 billion of the automatic
To attract conservatives, the deal puts more than $22billion toward deficit reduction and includes no new taxes. The increased spending is paid for with changes over the next decade that include new fees, such as on airline travel, and pension reductions for new federal employees and uninjured military retirees under 62.
At the last minute, Republicans tacked on a provision to prevent a scheduled cut in pay for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
Many Republicans have decided their efforts should be directed elsewhere — namely, fighting President
"We can aim at Obamacare," said Rep.
Not all Republicans are on board with the shift toward pragmatism or Boehner's push-back against the heavy-handed lobbying from conservative groups that has swayed lawmakers to block past deals.
Passage was not without a last-minute floor battle: Democrats protested the exclusion of long-term unemployment insurance for 1.3 million jobless Americans, whose benefits expire on Dec. 28.
Senate Majority Leader