WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) admits the new two-year federal budget that eases sequestration cuts while averting a government shutdown at the start of 2014 does not address many of the government’s larger spending issues.
“Is it a movement in the right direction? Yes. Is it a good deal? Is it the deal I want? Absolutely not,” said Manchin on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
He said he supported the budget because it returns the Congressional process to a “normal order.” “We’ve never had a normal order since I’ve been here. There hasn’t been one for the last five years where you had a budget,” said Manchin.
“What a budget does for you is it requires every one of the agencies to come in and justify what they want, why they need it, how they’re performing and what they’re doing.” He said such agency interaction has not been required during the years of repeated continuing resolutions.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed the deal Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) crafted with a 64-36 vote. Both U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Manchin supported the plan that will save the federal government $23 billion over ten years.
“You’ve got to take the positive from it and move forward and let’s go for a bigger deal now,” said Manchin.
He said, in the New Year, there must be serious discussions about long-term debt reduction, tax reforms and large-scale spending cuts.
“I’m not going to say there is a shining star out there and this (the new budget agreement) is the pathway to it. I will tell you this, from a practical standpoint, if you didn’t, whether you like things or don’t like things, we can talk about different segments of this deal, but the alternative is you have another shutdown,” said Manchin of his ‘yes’ vote.
The $1.01 trillion budget the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved last week before adjourning for the year, allowing no time to consider any Senate changes, trims the sequester cuts that were supposed to begin next month by $63 billion during the two year budget period.
The budget agreement does include $6 billion in controversial cuts to future cost-of-living increases for military pension benefits. Manchin said he was not sure how that reduction came up during negotiations as opposed to other possibilities, but he said he expected Congress to revisit those cuts in January.
Reports indicated this budget agreement represents the first time a divided Congress has approved a budget using the usual budget process since 1986. At that time, Democrats controlled the U.S. House while Republicans were in charge in the U.S. Senate.