House Democrats in wait-and-see mode on budget

December 11, 2013
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) (Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) (Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg)

Democrats, who probably will be needed in large numbers to pass the budget deal in the House, said Wednesday morning that they were still reviewing the agreement and would reserve judgment.

"Stay tuned," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters, adding that most members still haven't seen the full text of the measure.

It fell to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, to begin explaining the details to his colleagues in their weekly meeting Wednesday morning. Afterward, Van Hollen emphasized that the new agreement restores almost two-thirds of the budget cuts that were set to take place in January, adding that the agreement is “a lot more equitable than it was 48 hours ago.”

“Our caucus will have to look at the details as individuals and obviously we’ll be doing that over the next couple days,” he said.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said several colleagues remain concerned that the agreement fails to extend unemployment benefits for about 1 million out-of-work Americans. Failure to extend the benefits would be “devastating” for thousands of people in her Denver-area district, she said.

But Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), whose suburban Maryland district is home to tens of thousands of active and retired federal employees, said he was heartened that the agreement eased the burden on the federal workforce already reeling from years of pay freezes and budget cuts.

"I get some comfort from the fact that the changes are really prospective for new federal workers, they don't really affect any current federal workers, so I think that makes it much more manageable for people,” he said. “And I do think some certainty is important for federal workers, because another government shutdown isn't good for federal workers.”

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Aaron Blake | December 10, 2013