Casey: 'Bipartisan Frustration Over Budget'

Dec 12, 2014

"It's hard to make predictions around here and be accurate," says U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) about the fate of the $1.1 trillion budget.

It's now up to the Senate to pass the huge  spending bill to keep the government running through the end of the current fiscal year — Sept. 30.  

The measure passed the House Thursday after a day of drama but by a relatively comfortable 219-206 vote. The vote came after GOP leaders sent the House into a seven-hour recess to give the White House time to lobby Democrats angry that the measure weakens rules on trading risky financial products known as derivatives and allows wealthy donors to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into political parties.

In the end, 57 House Democrats voted for the bill, including two of the party's top three leaders. Democrats argued that there was too much good in the bill to scuttle it and get a worse deal next year when Republicans seize control of the Senate.

"Hold your nose and make this a better world," Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) said.

The measure includes increases for health research, securities regulation, processing a backlog of rape kits and foreign aid. Republicans won cuts to the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he hopes the measure will clear the Senate for Obama's signature on Friday, though a vote may not come until the weekend.

Casey noted the House did pass a stop gap funding bill to give the Senate another 48 hours to act on the overall budget.

"On our (Democratic) side, we're determined to stay here as long as it takes," Casey said. "I think there's time to get it done if folks are willing to work together."

President Obama quickly signed the 48-hour extension, and there were no threats of a government shutdown.

But Republicans scored many wins in the legislation, seizing on new leverage gained after their huge victories in last month's midterm elections.

One provision particularly galling to many Democrats would relax new bank regulations that force riskier trades in financial instruments known as derivatives into separate affiliates unprotected by deposit insurance.

The White House stated its own objections to the bank-related proposal and other portions of the bill in a written statement. Even so, officials said Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both telephoned Democrats to secure the votes needed for passage, and the president stepped away from a White House Christmas party reception line to make last-minute calls.

Opposition in the Senate is expected to be led by liberals such as Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who firmly opposes the banking provision, and conservatives such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is incensed over the president's executive actions regarding immigration.