LaMalfa applauds budget deal, defends Oct. shutdown vote |

LaMalfa applauds budget deal, defends Oct. shutdown vote

The Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce’s April 29 luncheon featuring Congressman Doug LaMalfa, and Col. Phil Stewart, commander of the Ninth Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base. Monday at noon, Grass Valley Veterans Hall, South Auburn Street.
John Hart / | The Union

Though last week’s budget deal was not the exactly what Nevada County’s representative in the U.S. Congress had hoped for, he said it could be the first step in the right direction.

“What we have is a divided government, so neither side is going to get everything they want,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale). “That said, the budget deal that got done and the Senate finished at least sets out a coarse for setting out the nation’s spending in a full process.”

LaMalfa was talking about Congress actually passing a budget rather than adopting a Continuing Resolution, a process designed to keep the government funded as previously approved while lawmakers hammer out a deal.

“We set out a budget plan that is for approximately two years here, instead of these CRs,” LaMalfa said. “They are a way to get by, but they aren’t supposed to become habit.”

Nine Republicans joined the Senate’s Democrats in passing a two-year budget deal Wednesday. The GOP-led House approved the measure a week earlier.

The agreement was aimed at preventing another government shutdown for nearly two more years and eases the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts — known as the sequester — on the Pentagon and other domestic agencies. The pact was crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state.

“It’s a win for process, and there is a limited amount of reduction in spending to continue toward the path to eventually balance the budget,” LaMalfa said.

“I think much more needs to be done across the board for reprioritizing where spending is,” LaMalfa also said. “Every department can be monitored. It’s a chance to reprioritize and a chance to ask questions about what is the mission and goal of this particular line of spending and this particular agency. That’s the kind of work you have in a committee process, and that’s what we will at least try to have.”

While the Senate’s adoption of the budget deal did allow President Obama to leave for his annual holiday trip to Hawaii with his family on time, it was not accompanied by the sound of popping champaign corks in the nation’s capitol. Instead, it served as a stark year-end reminder of how low expectations for Washington sank in 2013, particularly for a president who hoped his resounding re-election would clear the way for progress on immigration, the long-term debt and tax reform.

The president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said administration officials were “not getting overexcited because we’re not naive about the obstruction that continues to exist and the partisanship that tends more often than not to paralyze Washington and Congress.”

Like the White House, Republicans were cautious in predicting whether Washington’s brush with regular order was a preview of things to come in 2014.

“I don’t know how to read into it in terms of what compromise opportunities lay ahead,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “What I think it does do is clear the deck of some potentially contentious issues and give everyone space to do the normal legislating and governing.”

It’s the shadow of the debt ceiling perhaps more than anything else that has both parties wary of celebrating their end-of-the-year budget compromise. A debt limit standoff between Republicans and the White House brought the country to the brink of a default in October, and both sides are lining up behind their same hard-line positions once again.

LaMalfa, who firmly fell in line with Tea Party-led conservatives that dug in their heels during the partial government shutdown that tanked the Republican’s approval ratings during the roll out of the government’s health care websites, said his actions in October were spurred by opposition to another CR and the Affordable Care Act.

“There wasn’t a spending reduction. There wasn’t any kind of fix for a portion of Obamacare or a delay or anything,” LaMalfa said. “There wasn’t anything but business as usual, which actually allowed unchecked and unmonitored spending and increasing the national debt without any kind of limitations. So it gave too much power to the White House and the Treasury to do what they wanted, so that is why I was a no vote on that because it didn’t move the ball in the right direction at all. It actually lost a little bit of ground.”

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, says Republicans will seek concessions from Democrats in order to raise the debt limit, declaring, “We don’t want nothing out of this.” But the White House continues to insist that Obama, buoyed by his success in forcing the GOP to bend this fall, will not negotiate over the borrowing limit.

If Washington can avert another down-to-the-wire debt ceiling fight, White House officials hope to revive a stalled immigration overhaul while also trying to chalk up smaller victories on housing reform and infrastructure spending. And Obama will take a stab at increasing the minimum wage, though his advisers acknowledge that proposal faces tougher opposition from the GOP.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236. The Assocaited Press’ White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.

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