WASHINGTON -- The House approved a controversial fiscal deal yesterday that would increase government spending by $80 billion and raise the federal debt limit, shortly after the chamber's Republicans nominated Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as their next speaker.
The fiscal deal, negotiated by outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), cleared major fiscal obstacles from the first 16 months of Ryan's tenure as speaker. It averts a U.S. debt default in a rare bipartisan vote that signals a possible end to fiscal battles that have marked most of President Barack Obama's years in office.
The legislation would extend U.S. borrowing authority until March 2017, after Obama leaves the presidency, meaning conservatives can no longer threaten to force a default in an effort to win unrelated policy changes. Congress took the United States to the brink of default in 2011 and 2013.
The 266-167 vote sends the measure to the Senate, which plans to consider it in time to meet a Nov. 3 deadline to raise the debt limit.
Ryan bucked pressure to oppose the deal from conservatives who worked to force Boehner from office, saying in a statement that the agreement would help "wipe the slate clean" as he ascends to the top job.
Ryan, one of his party's brightest stars, is set to be formally elected to succeed Boehner in a House vote this morning. Republicans hope he will close out an era of GOP divisiveness and recrimination.
Ryan has spent much of the past decade burnishing his credentials as a conservative ideas man, from his 2008 "Roadmap for America's Future" through his four-year tenure as House Budget Committee chairman, his 2012 vice-presidential nomination and his ascent earlier this year to chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Democrats also welcomed Ryan's ascent: White House officials expressed hope yesterday that he will be empowered to pursue a more bipartisan course after claiming the gavel.