U.S. House passes budget deal; Young votes no

Photo: Liz Ruskin
Photo: Liz Ruskin

The U.S. House today approved a two-year budget deal that would break through sequestration budget caps and avoid a government debt default.

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Alaska Congressman Don Young, like a majority of House Republicans, voted no. Young says his primary objection is that the agreement would raise cash by selling off some of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“We paid a high price for that oil, for a reserve, and they’re using it to finance this budget, and they’re also using it for transportation,” Young said, referring to a pending highway bill. “You can’t keep taking from the piggy bank. And I’m just saying it’s the wrong way to approach this thing, so I voted no.”

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is stashed in caverns in Texas and Louisiana. It was created in the 1970s to protect against supply disruptions. Lately, though, Congress has been eyeing it as a potential revenue source. The budget deal calls for selling 58 million barrels — or about 8 percent of the reserve – over several years.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski hasn’t announced how she’ll vote on the deal when it reaches the Senate, but spokesman Robert Dillon says the draw from the reserves is a big concern for her.

“She has consistently taken the position that any SPR sale proceeds should go towards strengthening our nation’s energy security,” Dillon said.

The budget deal sailed through the House, 266-167, and no Democratic opposition. House Speaker John Boehner and his likely replacement, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, both voted for it.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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