Congress Set to Ok Budget, But Not Everyone's Happy
By the end of this week, members of the U.S. Congress are expected to approve a new federal budget. While House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says it's the best deal he could get, some conservatives are unhappy because Planned Parenthood funding and out-of-control federal spending will continue.
The budget battle was Ryan's first big test as House Speaker. He put a positive spin on the agreement, saying both parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- got something they wanted.
"I think we played our cards the best we could given the cards we were given, given the situation we inherited, and I am very proud of what we've been able to achieve," Ryan insisted.
The Republicans got a big energy win: Democrats finally agreed to end the 40-year ban on oil exports. The House speaker said that was huge for the GOP.
"Do you know what that does for our foreign policy, what that does for job creators, what that does for infrastructure? It's a permanent policy that's good for American foreign policy, good for energy and good for jobs," he said.
The bill also stops the Internal Revenue Service from targeting conservative groups like those audited in the recent Tea Party scandal.
"We are freezing most IRS operations and stopping the IRS from suppressing civic participation in 501(c) 4 organizations," Ryan said.
While Republicans failed to stall Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations against power plants, they agreed to extend solar power and wind energy tax credits for another five years.
The tax compromises are expected to give Congress an incentive to move forward next year with comprehensive tax reform.
The 2016 budget also weakens Obamacare by eliminating the so-called "Cadillac tax" placed on high-value health plans. Democrats agreed because labor unions opposed the tax.
"This is a bipartisan compromise, a bicameral compromise, and I understand that some people don't like some of the aspects of this, but that is the compromise that we have," Ryan explained.
Those people the speaker of the House referred to are House conservatives. So, what did they want that they didn't get?
With a federal deficit nearing $20 trillion, conservatives wanted to see a bill that lowered the deficit. That wasn't included in the budget measure.
And despite maintaining pro-life protections guaranteed in the Hyde amendment, the new budget does not end the ban on funding for Planned Parenthood.
With no way to override a veto from President Barack Obama, lawmakers made that decision despite undercover videos that showed the abortion provider discussing the sale of aborted baby body parts.
The measure also calls for security requirements to be tightened for the U.S visa waiver program.
And what about the controversial issue of admitting Syrian refugees into the United States? Ryan said the issue will be brought up by the U.S. Senate in early 2016.