[Ferry Disaster] ‘Sewol bodies show signs of decomposition’: CSI medical ...

U.S. congressional negotiators reach modest budget pact

U.S. congressional negotiators reach modest budget pact

kh close

 

Published : 2013-12-11 09:21
Updated : 2013-12-11 09:21

Congressional negotiators reached a modest U.S. budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $65 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Defense Department, with votes expected in both houses by week's end.

Officials said the increases would be offset by a variety of spending reductions and increased fees elsewhere in the budget totaling about $85 billion over a decade, enough for a largely symbolic cut of roughly $20 billion in the nation's $17 trillion debt.

While an agreement would have little impact on deficits, it holds the potential for avoiding politically charged budget clashes for the next year or two. It also was reached without the threat of an impending catastrophic deadline hanging over the lawmakers' heads.

But the plan does nothing to address three of the big drivers of American deficit spending _ the Medicare government health insurance program for the elderly, the Medicaid aid program for the poor and the Social Security government pension plan.

Conservatives are upset that the plan rolls back spending cuts, known as the sequester, while liberals are angered about the requirement that federal employees will have to pay more toward their pension accounts. Also progressives in Congress fought for an extension of unemployment payments to workers who have been out of a job for more than six months. This program expires Dec. 28 when payments will be cut off to an estimated 1.3 million individuals.

Announcement of the deal came in the form of a statement that the two negotiators, Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, and Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, who planned a news conference to announce details. The lawmakers chair the budget committees in the two houses of Congress, and negotiated the deal in secretive talks over recent weeks.

Officials said that under the agreement, an estimated $65 billion in automatic spending cuts would be restored through the end of the next budget year, which runs to Sept. 30, 2015.

Officials who described the details in advance of the news conference did so on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The same was not true of conservative organizations, which attacked the proposal as a betrayal of a hard-won 2011 agreement that reduced government spending and is counted as among the main accomplishments of tea party-aligned Republicans who came to power earlier the same year in the House.

Americans for Prosperity issued a midmorning statement saying that Republican lawmakers should uphold current spending levels. Otherwise, the group said, “congressional Republicans are joining liberal Democrats in breaking their word to the American people to finally begin reining in government overspending that has left us over $17 trillion in debt.”

A day earlier, Heritage Action issued a similar broadside, saying it could not support a deal that “would increase spending in the near-term for promises of woefully inadequate long-term reductions.” The group played an influential behind-the-scenes role earlier this fall in events that led to a partial government shutdown, supporting a strategy of refusing to provide needed funds for federal programs until the health care law known as “Obamacare” was defunded.

Given the internal Republican divisions in the House, its leader, Speaker John Boehner, is likely to need Democratic votes to approve any deal by Ryan and Murray. It was not immediately clear how many Democratic lawmakers would support a plan that lacked an extension of unemployment benefits.

The bipartisan push for a budget agreement stems from automatic cuts that are themselves the consequence of divided government's ability to complete a sweeping deficit reduction package in 2011.

If left in place, the reductions would carve $91 billion from the day-to-day budgets of the Pentagon and domestic agencies when compared with spending limits set by the hard-fought 2011 budget agreement.

Support for a deal to ease the reductions is strongest in Congress among defense hawks in both houses and both parties who fear the impact on military readiness from a looming $20 billion cut in Pentagon spending.

The White House wants a deal for a same reason, but also to ease the impact of automatic cuts on domestic programs from education to transportation to the national parks. (AP)

Photo News

기아차 '3세대 카니발' 실제 모습 공개

렉서스 신형 SUV 모습 드러내

사랑이 엄마, '섹시 가슴골' 노출한 과거 화보 보니