The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

January 18, 2014

Fiscal fatigue grabs capital as Obama preps speech

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Last October, GOP conservatives forced a 16-day government shutdown with their failed attempt to defund Obama’s health insurance overhaul.

But any public relations advantage Democrats may have reaped from that episode may have been eroded or lost in the problem-plagued rollout of the health care program.

Leaders of both parties are expressing frustration over the recent bouts of gridlock that come from divided control of government, with Democrats now controlling both the executive branch and the Senate and Republicans ruling the House. Neither party wants to bear the blame for the perceived dysfunction — while both sides are quick to blame the other for it.

And both sides are trying to better position themselves as they calculate strategy with a close eye on potential midterm wins and losses.

The $1.1 trillion spending compromise grew out of an agreement negotiated last month by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. — leaders respectively of the House and Senate Budget committees. It funds the government through Sept. 30, eases across-the-board government mandatory spending cuts and eliminates, for now, the likelihood of an election-year government shutdown.

The measure passed the House 359-67 on Wednesday and the Senate 72-26 on Thursday. Obama signed it Friday, averting any interruption in government funding Saturday at midnight.

It was a modest agreement, not the grand bargain some had hoped for. But for once, at least, the two sides were roughly on the same page and debate, for once, was mostly muted.

“It’s bipartisan, bicameral. We did it because we listened to each other and functioned with maximum respect,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “No one wants to shut the government down on either side,” Sen. Richard Shelby of Arizona, the committee’s top Republican, told colleagues.

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