WH Praises Spending Deal With GOP Congress: 'We Succeeded'

By Susan Jones | December 17, 2015 | 6:44am EST
White House press secretary Josh Earnest. (Charles Dharapak, AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House objects to a few Republican provisions in the omnibus $1.1-trillion spending bill, but overall, "We succeeded," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.

"So we walked into these negotiations focused on making sure that Republicans would not succeed in advancing their ideological agenda through the budgetary process, and I think, based on all of the solid reporting work that you have done over the last several weeks, there were a variety of attempts that Republicans undertook to try to do exactly that, and we did succeed in fighting off those efforts.

What is also true about this budget agreement, and this goes to one of the central priorities of the administration over the course of this year, is that it provides substantial funding for both our economic and national security priorities over and above the sequester.

"So, you know, we feel good about the outcome, primarily because we got a compromise budget agreement that fought off a wide variety of ideological riders, but yet ensures the priorities of that this administration has identified when it comes to investing in middle class families and protecting the country."

Earnest listed some of the White House "wins" in both the spending bill and a companion bill that extends tax breaks:

--No easing of Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations;
--No delay in the fiduciary rule, which requires retirement advisers to put their clients' interests ahead of their own profits;
--No restrictions on Syrian refugees;
--No funding cuts for administration's effort to fight climate change;
--No rider blocking a rule that says a single individual may be considered an employee of both the franchise and the parent company (more labor lawsuits);
--No repeal of Obamacare's medical device tax (two-year delay);
--No repeal of Obamacare's Cadillac tax on generous company-sponsored health plans (two year delay);
--No funding cut or IRS audit for Planned Parenthood.

Earnest also hailed the omnibus for including "the biggest investment in the deployment of renewable energy in American history."

"For a long time, the administration had to engage in negotiations with Congress on a yearly basis about the extension, for example, of the production tax credit -- a tax credit that provides powerful incentives to the wind industry. And these were tax credits that essentially were negotiated at the very end of the year so that they were almost, you know, completely retroactive. This created a lot of uncertainty about the financial policies that would be in place for wind energy companies that are trying to make longer-term decisions. That's why we believe it's critically important that we succeeded in securing essentially a five-year commitment to the production tax credit.

"We also succeeded in securing a five-year tax credit for the solar industry. This is significant because we would be building on substantial momentum that has already been built up. Since the president was elected to office, we have tripled the amount of energy that is produced in this country by the wind. And we have increased by 30-fold the amount of energy that is produced in this country by solar."

Earnest noted that Republicans tried and failed to limit "a wide variety of clean energy policies that this administration has long championed," including the Clean Power (anti-coal) Plan, the Clean Water Act, stricter ozone standards, the social cost of carbon, and the Endangered Species Act.

"Those efforts by Republicans to undermine the implementation of those rules was also rebuffed," Earnest said.

"So when you take a look at the entire package, I think the country can feel good about how this budget reflects the priorities that the president has laid out when it comes to transitioning to the low-carbon economy of the future."

Earnest noted that there are a number of provisions in the omnibus that the president does not support.

"But this is a compromise proposal and, you know, based on the priorities that we have set out to accomplish, the president is pleased with the final product even if it does reflect the kind of compromise that's necessary when you have a Democratic president negotiating with large majorities of Republicans in both the House and Senate."


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