Congressman Paul Ryan’s first real test as the new Speaker of the House resulted in a two-year, $1.1 trillion spending plan. While the spending bill avoids a government shutdown and contains some concessions to Democrats, the fiscal deal also includes some major victories for conservatives.
Chief among them, the plan will lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. To appease Democrats, it will also offer tax credits for renewable energy.
The U.S. is the world’s third-largest oil producer, and Republicans and energy companies have been fighting to lift export restrictions for many years. At a time when crude oil prices have fallen to new lows around the world, crude oil exports could open up a massive new sales route for the U.S. oil and gas industry.
To complete work on the spending deal, leaders of both political parties had to pass several temporary stop-gap spending bills to keep the government running. On Thursday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and the Obama administration finally announced support for the finalized plan. In addition to opening oil exports, the plan will also be complemented by $622 billion in tax breaks, which will be contained in a separate bill.
Hard line conservatives had pushed Ryan to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, pass increased screening measures for refugees, and force through a host of other right wing priorities. Without a spending plan in place before Congress goes on recess for the Christmas break, the government would have been forced to shut down, again.
Avoiding that scenario ahead of the 2016 election was Ryan’s first real test behind the bully pulpit.
“In divided government no one gets exactly what they want,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday, before noting that the oil export deal was a “big win” for conservatives.
Predictably, the most conservative members of the House promised to vote against the bill, accusing Ryan of giving President Obama everything he wanted.
“It is going to bust the deficit. We are not doing anything for yet another year to take the debt burden off our kids and grandkids,” Representative John Fleming of Louisiana said Thursday. “All we get is increased spending and Democrat priorities.”