A conference committee is expected to reconcile the relatively few disagreements between the two budgets after a two-week congressional recess.
"I know it wasn't easy. But it's a good balanced budget that everyone should want to support," McConnell said early Thursday afternoon.
It's about to get a lot harder.
The budget document isn't law; it's a symbolic and often fuzzy outline of the party's goals for the remainder of this Congress. That Republicans had such a difficult time attracting sufficient votes from their own members on what amounts to a messaging bill does not bode well for those priorities in the future.
Many of the concessions leaders made to their members in order to pass the budget are effectively IOUs. And over the next few months, rank-and-file members will come calling to cash in.
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Both Republican budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, drastic cuts to nondefense discretionary spending—and, perhaps most significant, they raise spending for defense while making massive (but as-yet undefined) cuts to entitlements.
But to actually do any of that, congressional leaders and appropriators will be tasked with creating new legislation that can attract at least six Democratic votes in the Senate and earn President Obama's support. That's no small task.
As Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer gleefully noted Thursday afternoon, budget-writers haven't laid out a very clear path for how to get there, leaving appropriators to fill in a lengthy list of blanks in both budget documents to achieve the financial cuts Republicans desire.
"They're just kicking the can down the road. They're going to have huge trouble with this budget. They had enough trouble dealing just with Republicans. Wait until they need to have a compromise with Democrats," Schumer said. "They're 30,000 feet. When they say cut $900 billion, then they're going to have to show how they get there."
Members of the two chambers' Budget Committees have made it easier on themselves when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. Both chambers have agreed to deal with repeal through reconciliation—meaning they won't need to attract any Democratic votes to pass it. The bill is certain to earn a presidential veto and will not have the Democratic support to overcome one. But in the past several weeks, Republican rhetoricians have lowered the bar for victory, arguing that they will soon fulfill their election-year promise of getting a repeal bill to Obama's desk regardless of what POTUS does with it.
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The real trouble will come with defense and entitlement spending. Congressional Republicans were able to raise the defense spending in their budgets in a work-around move that will not require Democratic approval—raising the limits for Overseas Contingency Operations accounts. But many members are still hopeful that they'll be able to further add to the Pentagon's budget, raising the defense caps under the Budget Control Act before another round of sequestration cuts hits in January. And that will require Democratic approval.