The budget deal

I swear I read a half dozen stories/posts on the matter yesterday, but it was only Vox that managed to explain why Democrats had so much leverage to get such a good deal:

Republicans, despite controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, had a problem when it came to funding the government: They needed Democrats to sign on.

Unlike Trump’s Cabinet nominations, which only a need a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate to pass, a spending bill needs 60 votes — meaning Republicans in the Senate need their entire party and at least eight Democrats to sign on to the omnibus.

If Republicans didn’t need Democrats to pass a bill, they could have hiked defense spending, appropriated money to start Trump’s border wall, and maybe even defunded Planned Parenthood (although Speaker Paul Ryan has said that belongs in the health care debate).

But from the beginning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans that any attempt to fund the border wall, roll back environmental and consumers protections, or pull funding from Planned Parenthood would meet with unified Democratic opposition.

It appears as though Democrats got their way — and conservatives got almost nothing they wanted.

Because Republicans needed Democratic votes to fund the government, the result was a spending package that was a tough sell for conservatives. The more Republicans lost votes on the right flank, though, the more Democrats they needed to avoid a shutdown — so the spending bill kept moving ever-further left. As the chair of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joseph Crowley, said last week, the negotiations made it apparent that Republicans would need Democratic help to pass the bill in the House as well.

And, of course, what this means is that Democrats have gotten pretty smart about how to use their minority power.  As Republicans showed under Obama, the vast majority of the public doesn’t really get this 60 votes in the Senate thing.  They just expect the party in power to get things done and blame them if things don’t get done.  The reason Republicans so completely caved is because they were confident (and correct) that they would bear complete blame for the shutdown.

Nice summary of the deal and the winners and losers in another Vox piece:

It’s worth taking stock of just how far the agreement from is from what Trump initially demanded.

Trump wanted billions to build a wall on the Mexican border. He didn’t get a dime for it. He wanted staggering reductions to medical and scientific research. Democrats successfully won a $2 billion increase in funding for the NIH.

Trump proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent. He wanted to gut the State Department with a 29 percent cut, and weaken the Labor Department by reducing its budget by 21 percent. All three of the agencies will keep essentially their entire funding streams.

Also, no cuts to Planned Parenthood.  and some help for Puerto Rico.  As for Trump’s vaunted dealmaker status?  Not so much.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to The budget deal

  1. Mika says:

    Yeah, I wondered about the Democrats and read some newspaper articles about the budget but didn’t find the answer. Thanks for providing one 🙂

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Trump said that some things weren’t covered in the first budget bill but would be in the second. Planned Parenthood defunding would happen in that and the pre-existing conditions as good as in Obama care would happen in the second bill. Looks like all the issues Democrats oppose will be in the second phase.
    So, Dems, don’t take victory laps just yet.

  3. rgbact says:

    Its fun to read the difference in liberal and conservative blogs on this stuff. Liberals always imagine they win all the time. Vox sure won’t differ on that. Conservatives otoh rage all the time and look for every loss. Hard to find good analysis, instead of scorekeeping.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Ummm, liberals don’t think they won all the time. But, given what Republicans wanted and what this compromise looks like, hard to see how this is not a win.

  4. ohwilleke says:

    Trump The biggest loser.

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