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House GOP leaders defend budget deal

The Washington Post (12/12, Montgomery, O’Keefe, Branigin) reports that amid objections from conservatives and liberals, House GOP leaders in Wednesday defended the bipartisan deal. House Majority Leader Cantor “congratulated Ryan on ‘the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government we’re in,’’” adding that the proposal “accomplishes deficit reduction and permanent federal pension reform, ‘and it doesn’t raise taxes.’” Cantor said the agreement “was consistent with Republican efforts to replace the mandatory budget cuts known as the sequester with ‘permanent savings that make a lot more sense.’” The Post noted that House Republicans leaving a closed-door meeting about the deal on Wednesday“expressed mixed, but generally positive, reactions to the agreement.”

The AP (12/12, Espo, Taylor) reports that the deal found support from House Republicans Wednesday “even though it would nudge federal deficits higher three years in a row.” While there were complaints from both sides of the aisle, “other lawmakers, buffeted by criticism after last October’s partial government shutdown, found plenty to like in the agreement and suggested it could lead to future cooperation.”

The Washington Post (12/12, Wilson) reports that the deal “represents a potentially defining moment” for Republicans, who are “divided between those who believe the party needs to prove it can govern, and those who believe in purity at all costs.” The deal “puts House Republicans at a crossroads” at which they “can pass a compromise” or “reject the deal as insufficiently conservative and cement the party’s growing reputation as unwilling to come to the table.”

The Hill (12/12, Berman, Wasson) reports that the deal “won positive reviews from skeptical House Republicans on Wednesday morning.” Although there was some criticism form conservatives, “lawmakers said there was little sign of the kind of revolt that has derailed Republican fiscal plans in the past.”

McClatchy (12/12, Lightman, Douglas) reports that despite objections from conservatives and skepticism from Democrats, the deal “appears headed for passage, perhaps as soon as Thursday in the House of Representatives.”

The Wall Street Journal (12/12, Hook, Peterson, Subscription Publication) reports that while few on the Hill are enthusiastic about the plan, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say the hope of bringing an end to Congress’s ongoing budget fights would be enough to move the bill through both chambers.

The Washington Post (12/12, O’Keefe) reports that the support for the bill “appears to rest on two things.” First, “both parties will be making concessions in order to reach a deal, and two, that Congress is in no mood to have to rush back to Washington after the holidays to meet (yet) another fiscal deadline.”

Boehner Blasts Conservative Groups Opposing Budget Deal.

The CBS Evening News reported that the conservative groups’ opposition to the deal “drew a rare public rebuke from the Republican leadership.” CBS (Cordes) added that “what made Republican leaders so angry was the fact that these powerful outside groups were once again urging Republicans to vote against a fragile compromise that had been worked out by a party standard bearer who, in this case, just happens to be a possible presidential candidate in 2016.” Asked about the conservative groups’ opposition, House Speaker Boehner said, “They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction you’re for this agreement.” CBS added that GOP leaders “feel that these influential groups have been pushing conservatives to sink deal after deal.”

The Los Angeles Times (12/12, Memoli) calls Boehner’s comments an “uncharacteristically forceful response” to the groups. The Times adds that Boehner “mocked the powerful conservative forces that he said were staking out opposition to the deal even before its full details were public.”

The Hill (12/12, Berman, Wasson) notes that distrust between Boehner and the groups “has been a theme of his Speakership, but it boiled over” Wednesday as attacks on the deal by conservative groups, including Heritage Action and FreedomWorks prompted Boehner “to lash out at them.” The Hill notes that with his comments, Boehner “joins senior Senate Republicans who have decried their influence and their motives in mounting primary challenges against incumbents.”

Many Senate Republicans Oppose Deal.

Politico (12/12, Raju, Sherman) reports that while House Republican leaders are “eager to lock down support from their party to back the bipartisan budget deal and avoid yet another round of fiscal crises,” their message “appears to have gotten lost in the Capitol Rotunda.” Senate GOP leaders and senior members “are balking at the budget deal, arguing that it hikes spending too high without demanding more immediate cuts in return.” Politico notes that Senate Republicans “have the luxury of nearly uniform opposition because they are in the minority.” Since they know the deal will have the 60-votes it needs to beat a filibuster, “‘no’ becomes the default position for many of them.”

Senate Minority Leader Said To Be “Leaning Against” Budget Deal. The Huffington Post (12/12, McAuliff) reports that Senate Minority Leader McConnell is “conspicuously absent” from the group of lawmakers praising the deal. Asked if he supports the agreement, McConnell “was noncommittal,” saying, “I haven’t really looked at it yet.” However, there is an “unconfirmed report” that he “is leaning against it.”

Senator Cruz Finds Budget Deal “Deeply Concerning.” The Hill (12/12, Jaffe) reports that Sen. Ted Cruz’s office said Wednesday that the Senator, who was flying back from South Africa, finds the budget deal “deeply concerning.” Spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said that Cruz “hasn’t had time to fully review the proposal,” but added that he “did take issue with much of it.”

Senator Sessions To Oppose Budget Deal. McClatchy (12/12, Lightman) reports that the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that he “will oppose the bipartisan budget deal.” Sessions said in a statement, “While I favor reorganizing elements of the Budget Control Act to smooth the impact, I do not favor increasing total discretionary spending above what was agreed to over the 10-year BCA period (exchanged for the already-exhausted $2.1 trillion debt increase in 2011).”

CBO: Budget Deal Will Reduce Deficit By $85B Over 10 Years. Politico (12/12, Everett) reports that the CBO estimates that the budget agreement “will reduce the federal deficit by $85 billion over 10 years.” The plan “will decrease spending by $78 billion and bring in $7 billion in new revenues by 2023, CBO found.”

The AP (12/12, Taylor) reports that the CBO said that over the next two years, the deal “would increase the deficit…by $41.4 billion,” raising it “by $23.2 billion in 2014 and by $18.2 billion the year after that.”

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