Need to know: American legislators can pass bipartisan budgets

Democrats and Republicans approve $1 trillion in spending

AP/J. David Ake

The story
Usually, when we hear about U.S. Congress in Canada, we’re hearing about how it can’t do its job. Usually, there’s some kind of fiscal crisis, and we hear all about brinkmanship and hostility and breakdowns and acrimony. We also hear about all the congressional leaders, both Republican and Democrat, who face each other down and refuse to concede much at all. The president gets involved. Talks break down, then recommence, then break down all over. Then, at virtually the last second, some middling solution to the crisis of the time appears. Both sides lay down their rhetorical weapons and the nation endures.

This week, we’ve heard from two other people: Rep. Paul Ryan, who most of us remember as the guy who wanted Joe Biden’s job in 2012, and who now chairs the House of Representatives’ budget committee; and Sen. Patty Murray, the Democrat who chairs the Senate’s budget committee. The pair negotiated a budget deal that lasts two years. It eases those dramatic cuts, known as sequestration, that emerged after a past crisis. It cuts down the deficit by $23 billion. It’s modest, but it’s bipartisan.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on Ryan’s budget committee, was cautiously happy. “It is not the budget agreement I or many of my colleagues would have written but I do believe on balance, at the margin, it represents a small but positive step forward,” he told CBS News after the budget passed through the House.

What’s remarkable is just how much legislators marginalized the Tea Party’s voice. The House vote was 332-94, including 169 Republicans. Those who joined forces with Democrats soundly drowned out the loud, proud right-wingers who stood opposed.

The stat
$1.012 trillion: Total spending approved by the House of Representatives for the 2014 fiscal year

The quote
“It’s doing what the American people expect us to do, and that’s coming together and finding common ground. Stick to our principles, but find common ground.” —Speaker John Boehner


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail Transport Canada will designate crude oil as a highly dangerous substance.
National Post An attempt to return pro baseball to Montreal will likely fail.
Toronto Star Hydro One‘s pension plan is almost as generous as OPG’s deal in Ontario.
Ottawa Citizen Governor General David Johnston wants mentally ill soldiers to get help.
CBC News Kim Jong-un‘s execution of his uncle could mean a wider purge of dissidents.
CTV News The lineup to pay respects to Mandela’s body is still thousands long.
National Newswatch The Conservative Party has lost 10,000 donors in a year.


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THE GLOBAL Same-sex marriage. Australia’s top court threw out a law passed last October in the Australian Capital Territory that legalized same-sex marriage. The court deemed Parliament, which shot down a gay-marriage bill in September 2012, the final arbiter of the law. Twenty-seven marriages are now invalid.

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