Rep. Braley taking ‘wait and see’ approach to congressional budget plan

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley ‘reluctant’ pending more details

James Q. Lynch
Published: December 11 2013 | 1:06 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:43 am in
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Congressional negotiators have struck a budget compromise, but the reaction from Iowa is lukewarm at best.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how it proceeds going forward,” Iowa 1st District Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley said Wednesday about the plan that could be approved before the end of the week.

It calls for a striking a compromise on spending levels for the Pentagon and other federal agencies at $1.012 trillion. That’s between the $1.058 proposed by Democrats and the $967 billion Republicans sought.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is “leaning against” voting for the compromise, but said he’s reserving a final decision until he has more details.

“You’ve got to remember that this budget is kind of an outline,” he told reporters Dec. 11.

His chief reservation is with “revenue raising.” Grassley needs to know how the additional revenue, such as an increase in the airport security fee, will be spent before he makes a decision on how he will vote.

Grassley said he isn’t sure he can find fault with the revenues that would be raised by the agreement, “but to raise revenue to offset additional expenditures when we have been so successful under Budget Control Act of 2011 raises questions whether this is just a way of getting more government spending.”

Originally, he said, the plan was to save $2.1 trillion under the White House proposal – an amount equal to the increase in the national debt.

“This detracts from that basic compromise,” Grassley said. That makes him “kind of reluctant to vote for it.”

Braley’s concerns are with “a number of the issues that either aren’t addressed or are addressed in a way that would be harmful to Iowans.” Among them is the possibility 35,000 unemployed Iowans could lose some or all of their unemployment benefits.

One positive he sees is that the budget agreement “could help end the cycle of crisis that we repeatedly see happening by funding the government through the fall of 2015.”

If the House approves the plan Thursday, Grassley expects the Senate to follow suit Friday. Speculation in Washington is that it will pass the House with a minority of Republicans voting for it, he said.

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