Kentucky's federal delegation split over support of federal budget deal

12/11/2013 03:00 PM

The new bipartisan deal for a two-year budget yielded mixed reviews from Kentucky’s congressional delegation for its provisions to add more flexibility to sequester cuts and the $85 billion dollars in savings.

The two-year budget deal, reached by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, includes provisions that members of both parties are not completely pleased with. But among those in Kentucky’s federal delegation, the disagreement does not split straight down party lines.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville, the delegation’s loan Democrat, said he is still reviewing the deal. Yarmuth expressed concerns over continued spending levels in the budget deal that make deep cuts to areas such as medical research, infrastructure, education and nutrition programs.

And Yarmuth, like many Democrats, expressed concern that the deal didn’t include an extension of unemployment insurance for Americans whose jobless benefits run out at the end of December.

Because of the issues they have with the lack of an extension, Congressional Democrats are sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking that he not adjourn the House for the year without bringing up a vote on an extension of federal unemployment insurance.

The letter from the Democrats, including Yarmuth, reads:

“Without swift Congressional action, 1.3 million jobless workers will have their benefits cut off on December 28th, and nearly another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment benefits over the first half of next year,” said the letter signed by 166 House Democrats. “This would not only be a devastating blow for millions of Americans who are already struggling, but it would also hurt our economy.”

While Yarmuth has concerns with the budget, his office says he is likely to support the deal when Congress takes a vote Thursday.

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul said he could not support the bipartisan budget agreement because he said it did nothing to bring down the nation’s debt and continues a cycle of failing to balance the budget.

“There is a recurring theme in Washington budget negotiations. It’s I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. I think it’s a huge mistake to trade sequester cuts now, for the promise of cuts later,” Sen. Paul said. “The small sequester spending cuts were not nearly enough to address our deficit problem. Undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed.”

A similar stance was taken by Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, who said on social media that he will be opposing the bill because it is another sign that Congress is becoming a cliche for “kicking the can down the road”.

U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, praised the budget deal saying Ryan and Murray’s work was impressive.

“This type of deal takes courage and resolve, and they have done their very best to find common ground. Not only does this deal hold the line on spending, it actually puts a dent in our annual deficit – a significant accomplishment. Plus, it opens the door for future progress on the problem of runaway entitlements, and paves the way toward budget and economic stability for the next two years,” Rogers said.

Others have reserved judgement. For instance, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has yet to express a full opinion on the deal.

Over the weekend, he told Pure Politics he believes the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do to reduce government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War, the same thing he told reporters in Washington Tuesday before the deal was announced.


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