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House lawmakers asked to ‘find common ground’ to pass bipartisan budget deal

December 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A hard-fought deal to set the federal government’s spending for the next two years moved toward approval in Congress tonight.

NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

MAN: The House will be in order.

KWAME HOLMAN: The House was gaveled into session, intent on finishing the budget deal before leaving for Christmas. Lawmakers from both parties said the agreement wasn’t perfect but a step in the right direction.

Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, chairing the House Budget Committee, helped craft the proposal.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis.: This is good government. It’s also divided government. And to make divided government work, you can’t ask each other to compromise a core principle, because we don’t do that here. We ask each other to find some common ground to advance the common good. And that’s what this agreement does.

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KWAME HOLMAN: The deal would pare away $63 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts, in their place, $85 billion in targeted cuts, plus increased revenues including higher airline security fees to be achieved over the next decade.

The bill doesn’t extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, to the dismay of many Democratic lawmakers.

Jim McGovern of Massachusetts:

REP. JIM MCGOVERN, D-Mass.: Let’s not turn our backs on the most vulnerable in this country. It has become unfashionable in this Congress to worry about the poor. It has become unfashionable to stand up for these programs just to help people get by. This is the holiday season. Have a heart.

KWAME HOLMAN: Republicans argued jobless benefits should be handled separately.

Georgia’s Rob Woodall:

REP. ROB WOODALL, R-Ga.:The gentleman knows that anything short of a bipartisan, bicameral solution is showboating for those folks who are hurting, not doing a daggone thing to help them. We don’t need showboating in this institution, Mr. Speaker. We need results.

KWAME HOLMAN: Republicans also faced pressure from outside conservative groups opposed to the deal, but, for a second day, Speaker John Boehner rebuked them.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: It’s not everything I wanted, but when groups come out and criticize an agreement that they have never seen, you begin to wonder just how credible those — those actions are.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Senate is expected to take up the budget measure next week, before leaving for the holidays.