Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted against a bipartisan session-ending budget deal Dec. 18, joining Rep. Raul Labrador (Rep. Mike Simpson was the only member of the Idaho delegation to vote yes). Now, all four are heading home for the holidays after buttoning up the least-productive Congressional session on record.
There were approximately 60 public laws enacted this year, so far below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this session to be the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted for what had been the record low in the post-World War II era.
Crapo and Risch joined 34 of their Senate colleagues in voting against the budget deal, but 64 other senators easily pushed the spending plan through, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
While relatively modest at 77 pages, the $1 trillion deal packs a big punch. First and foremost, it restores $45 billion—or about half—of the spending that had been slashed as part of cuts imposed by the sequester.
The military's discretionary budget will actually go up by $2 billion, and money will likely be restored to programs for the needy like Head Start and Meals on Wheels, many of which had suffered devastating cuts under the sequester.
However, unemployment benefits will expire for about 1.3 Americans under the deal, and new federal employees will have to pay more into their retirement programs to keep pensions afloat.
One provision, cutting the inflation increases of pensions for military retirees under the age of 62, was proving to be especially unpopular among Republicans.
Several conservatives opposed the measure in Wednesday's final vote because it fails to take on the nation's most pressing fiscal challenges.
But the deal advanced with the help of at least 12 Republicans.