Fighting the clock as the transfer of duties to, presumably, Paul Ryan from the current U.S. House Speaker John Boehner loomed, Congressional leaders rushed on Wednesday, to complete a two-year deal on the budget which would also extend the federal debt ceiling but only until early next year.
$45 Billion Cost
Both Democratic and Republican leaders finally voted on the new budget which was approved in a 64-36 decision although the result has managed to enrage both sides of the house as it includes various last minute additions including reduced benefits for disabled veterans. However, despite the fallout that will no doubt go on for the next two years, it does symbolize an important, if more than likely very temporary breakthrough after several years of unrelenting gridlock in Congress. As a result of last minute compromises, $45 billion that was originally going to be cut from both the Pentagons and other domestic agencies budgets was reinstated.
A Glimmer of Hope
Despite the internal conflict, one benefit did result as during the negotiations as the U.S. Export-Import bank came one step closer to possible revival after its current dormancy. On Monday, Democrats and Republicans approved a move to force a vote to attempt to renew its charter. The bank, which plays an essential role in providing foreign buyers with financing to purchase U.S. produced goods and services, has had its services restricted for the last four months, causing several companies to move jobs overseas as they lost valuable export deals.
Voting came back with 246-177 in favor of a “discharge petition,” a rarely successful move that last worked in 2002. This time it was passed in order to force a vote on the passage of the bill which would renew EXIM’s charter until September 30, 2019, with some amendments to its governance. Given the current mood in Congress however, only time will tell if it actually gets its charter fully renewed.