Along with the short-term funding agreement, 29 lawmakers from both chambers were appointed to a budget conference committee and tasked with reconciling two very different budgets by Dec. 13. As a member of the conference, I was encouraged by the willingness of Chairman Paul Ryan and Chairman Patty Murray to negotiate real reforms. But most importantly, I was pleased to watch both sides reach across the aisle, focus on areas of agreement, rather than disagreement, and ultimately restore regular order.
After weeks of discussion with each other and with the input of other conferees, Chairmen Ryan and Murray announced a two-year budget deal on Dec. 10. The Bipartisan Budget Act passed both chambers with strong, bipartisan support and was signed into law by the president. When I remember the pain caused by the recent shutdown, I am encouraged that this conference was able to reach a deal that finds savings, eases sequester, brings down the deficit and removes the threat of shutdown in the near future. It doesn’t solve all our fiscal problems, but it brings promise of future reform.
I also was pleased to see both chambers work together in reconciling their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that funds our vital military and ensures they have the resources they need to defend our country. This year marks the 52nd consecutive year that the NDAA has passed Congress and been signed into law by the President.
Overall, this has been a productive year. Through the fiscal cliff agreement at the beginning of the year and the recent bipartisan budget deal, I am pleased that lawmakers showed they can work together and find common ground with each other and the president. I hope that this willingness to negotiate and find real reforms will continue into 2014, even in the midst of divided government.