The emerging deal is a sharp contrast to previous occasions when House Republicans used the approach of a spending deadline to insist on deep spending cuts in exchange for their votes, once avoiding a shutdown by a matter of hours. But with the Oct. 1 deadline for enacting spending bills for 2012 coming so close to the election, Republicans leaders were eager to avoid a government crisis that they could be blamed for by voters at the polls.
Under the agreement that takes the spending fight off the table before the presidential and Congressional elections, lawmakers have agreed to continue the current rate of spending into early next year despite a call by some conservative Republicans for a lower rate. By pushing the spending into next year, the House and Senate would also eliminate it as a bargaining chip in post-election negotiations over what to do about expiring tax cuts.
The rate of spending will be consistent with the $1.047 trillion agreed to in the debt limit deal last year. Harry Reid added that there are no riders in the bill. It’s just a budget deal to keep the government running through March 2013, at the level Democrats wanted, with no concessions to Republicans.
This means that the elections will determine the future of the budget, as per usual. But it represents a real retreat from the hard-charging rhetoric of Republicans on budgetary matters.
However, there’s still time for this to blow up. While the agreement was announced today, voting will not take place until after the August recess. That means that conservatives, seeing that they gave away all their leverage on this issue, may whip up the far right of the party and force changes. That’s certainly something we’ve seen happen before. Five weeks is a long time.