The President and the Democrats managed to stave off a government shutdown as well as exclude some far flung Republican riders like the one that called for the defunding of the EPA.
Despite major concessions from Democrats, Republicans came within minutes of shutting down government on Friday April 8, 2011.
In a statement shortly after the budget agreement was reached, Obama called it “the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Discretionary spending for the rest of FY 2011 is nearly $39 billion less than had been budgeted for the previous year and $79 billion less than Obama had wanted for 2011.
Riders that were defeated include the Republican’s controversial attempts to eliminate federal funds for the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases linked to global climate change. One of the riders that did make it through prevents the use of federal or local funds to pay for abortion services in the District of Columbia.
A rider, also known as ‘pork,’ is an attachment that is added to a document in order to modify it. However, the Republicans use riders to add entirely new, unrelated laws. These riders reveal much about the Republicans political agenda. Republicans attempted to introduce unpopular fiscal changes that would otherwise have attracted public protest. Republican riders were a blatant attempt to sneak through unpopular measures like the elimination of abortion funding.
“Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances,” he said. “But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs – investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future.”
“In the end, Boehner got far more than he gave up, and far more than Obama, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and the Democrats were initially willing to offer,” write John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman at Politico.com. “It sets the stage for a stronger hand for Boehner as he enters politically perilous fights to raise the debt ceiling and pass 2012 spending bills.”
While Obama wants to protect investments that America needs to “win the future,” Republicans can be expected to doggedly pursue cost cutting in an effort to pander to their base.
The fight over this bill is tangible proof of the tea party’s far-right influence on the Republican party. This does not bode well for the real showdown looming over the budget for 2012. While a government shutdown may have been avoided this time, it may prove unavoidable in the next couple of months.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.