Compromise: Metro-east congressmen vote for bi-partisan budget deal

News-DemocratDecember 12, 2013 

The three metro-east U.S. House members voted Thursday night to approve a budget deal that ends the danger of another government shutdown for at least two years.

U.S. representatives Bill Enyart, D-Belleville; John Shimkus, R-Collinsville; and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, issued statements after the vote endorsing a bi-partisan budget package that passed the House by a wide margin and is expected to win overwhelming approval in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.

During an interview Thursday night after the vote, Enyart acknowledged the budget deal is a compromise that contains provisions he doesn't like.

"But, as they say, you can't let perfection be the enemy of the achieveable," said Enyart, whose 12th House District includes 12 counties running from Alton to Cairo.

One of the most positive aspects of the new budget is that it sharply reduces the impact of across-the-board sequester budget cuts from 2013, eliminating the prospect of the massive civilian unpaid civilian furloughs that hit Scott Air Force Base last year, as well as other federal employers in St. Louis and Southern Illinois, Enyart said.

"It's going to put some money back in to defense and non-defense budgets," he said.

Shimkus applauded the budget deal because, according to his statement, it contains $23 billion in net deficit reduction efforts, including cost saving provisions that include measures to stop criminals from receiving unemployment checks and ending interest rate bonuses for some energy company deposits with the government.

"These are all modest reforms, yet they are reforms that will pass a Democrat Senate and get signed into law by the president," Shimkus said. "We continue to reduce the deficit without raising income taxes."

Davis, in his statement, said the budget act "shouldn't be considered a 'great' or even a 'good' deal. This bill doesn't do enough to address our debt and deficit spending and offers little in long-term reforms to the way Washington spends money."

Also on Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee passed the 2014 Defense Authorization Act, which Enyart -- a committee member -- called a "strong bill that funds our troops, draws down the military presence in Afghanistan, eliminates military waste and is good for the Southern Illinois economy."

Enyart added that the bill's passage shows that Congress "is sending a clear message that there is no interest in additional military base closures in the near future. This is good news for Scott Air Force Base in the short term."

The final budget bill also includes an Enyart-sponsored measure to end waste and duplication in the military uniforms. Enyart's proposed restrictions after reports surfaced of the military spending wasted tens of millions of dollars on the design and production of 10 different combat uniforms for the U.S. military.

Davis, whose 13th U.S. House District cuts across 14 central Illinois counties, including much of Madison County, noted that "in a divided government, neither side will get everything they want, and that's the common sense solution that we approved today."

Davis called the budget deal "a small step in the right direction" that "will finally put a stop to the cycle of continuing resolutions and governing from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis."

Congress, however, failed to approve a long-term farm bill. Instead, both chambers will likely approve a one-month extension that will give House and Senate negotiators more time to hammer out a five-year deal.

"What we're hearing is they're very, very close to a final agreement," he said.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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