Most of Florida Congressional Delegation Backs Murray-Ryan Budget Deal

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: December 13, 2013 9:25 AM
Ted Deutch, Ron DeSantis, Steve Southerland

Ted Deutch, Ron DeSantis, Steve Southerland

Hoping to avoid another federal shutdown like the one in October, the Republican-controlled U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to support the budget proposal crafted by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.,on Thursday night.

The budget passed with 332 votes, which included 169 Republicans, a majority of the GOP’s House contingent. The Republican leadership, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, supported the budget agreement. Only 94 congressmen opposed the proposal which sets the federal budget at $1.012 trillion and is expected to cut the deficit between $20-23 billion.

In terms of the Florida delegation, most members from the Sunshine State voted to support the agreement.

While some conservative groups opposed the deal, some Republicans who won their seat with help from the tea party movement supported it, including U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.

“The House acted today in a bipartisan fashion to restore the long-term certainty that hard-working families deserve,” said Southerland on Thursday night. “This common-sense agreement cuts the federal deficit by $23 billion and strengthens the readiness of our military without increasing taxes. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win for the American people. And by eliminating the possibility of another government shutdown in January, we are now able to keep our focus where it belongs: on improving conditions for job growth and addressing the crippling impact of the disastrous Obamacare rollout.”

“The American people are tired of Washington dysfunction,” Yoho said after the vote. “Legislating from crisis to crisis has caused a trillion-dollar debt and an acceptance of the status quo. This budget resolution offers a path to reduce the deficit and cut spending in a responsible way. Getting back to a regular budgeting process allows us the opportunity to cut spending and root out wasteful programs. I look forward to breaking through the partisan logjam and doing what the American people sent us up here to do -- bring back the greatness of America. While not a perfect bill, this is an important first step in bringing our nation back from fiscal calamity.”

Other Florida Republicans who voted for the bill include U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.

“While this bipartisan agreement does not please everyone, it does take necessary steps to reduce the deficit without raising taxes or relying on the devastating cuts of sequestration that would endanger our national security,” Crenshaw said on Thursday night. “Now the appropriations process can operate on a clear path toward fulfilling its duty of creating fiscally-responsible appropriations bills that fund every agency of the federal government. Lurching from one budget crisis to another is no way to do business, and this framework adds some welcome certainty into the equation.

“During these budget negotiations, my commitment to our national security did not waver,” Crenshaw added. “I will not stand idly by and allow our military to be stripped of the resources it needs to protect us at home and around the globe.”

Most Florida Democrats also supported the bill, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.; and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

Deutch weighed in on Thursday night to explain why he supported the deal.

“Today, a bipartisan budget agreement passed the House of Representatives that prevents another harmful government shutdown and staves off cuts to NIH research without cutting a dime from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits,” Deutch said. "Yet even as we all agree that protecting our economy from these kind of self-inflicted wounds is a step forward, we must also acknowledge that it fails to address the major economic challenges of our time. Our deficit has shrunk to its lowest level in five years, and yet this deal unnecessarily pockets $20 billion in savings that could have paid for preserving unemployment insurance for millions of Americans struggling with long-term joblessness. Nor does it include the kind of forward-thinking investments in our economy that will create jobs and opportunity for the middle class. With this modest agreement behind us, I hope the 113th Congress will begin taking action on the priorities of the American people, from pro-growth immigration reform to a minimum wage increase to tax reform that creates jobs here at home.”

Included in the 62 Republicans who voted against the deal were U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.; and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla.

“This budget deal increases spending now and promises to replace the increases with spending reductions scheduled to occur far into the future,” DeSantis explained on Thursday night. “Because I am doubtful these reductions will materialize and because I promised my constituents I would work to reduce spending, I could not support the deal.

“Furthermore, changes were made to military retirement programs that do not apply to civilian employees or retirees,” DeSantis added. “While veterans will be the first to support fiscal reforms that will avert a debt crisis, it is unfair to apply these changes to current military retirees but to no one else.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., was one of 32 Democrats who voted against the proposal.

“This budget deal is better than the status quo and it’s good to see bipartisan cooperation,” Frankel said. “With that said, because of the cuts to Medicare, reduction to military retirement payments and leaving millions of Americans desperate without any source of income because of failure to renew unemployment insurance, I voted no.”

Two members of the Florida delegation -- U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla. -- did not vote. Radel is currently in rehab after being busted for cocaine possession.

Florida’s two U.S. senators are divided on the budget deal with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., supporting it and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., opposing it.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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