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U.S. budget bill moves toward final passage in Senate

U.S. budget bill moves toward final passage in Senate

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Published : 2013-12-18 09:31
Updated : 2013-12-18 09:31

A bill that would avert another government shutdown and ease many of the painful budget cuts passed a pivotal test in the Senate on Tuesday, a rare example of bipartisanship in a deeply divided Congress.

The measure should stabilize a broken budget process after a partial government shutdown in October that inflicted political harm upon Republicans and Congress in general.

“This bipartisan bill takes the first steps toward rebuilding our broken budget process. And hopefully, toward rebuilding our broken Congress,” said Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, who negotiated the measure with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee last year. “

The bill would ease some of the harshest cuts to agency budgets required under automatic spending curbs imposed earlier this year after Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a budget agreement. The cuts had been intended to be so onerous that they would force Washington to reach a lasting deal on government spending. But that so-called grand bargain was never reached.

The Senate advanced the measure on a 67-33 vote that ensures it will pass the Democratic-led chamber no later than Wednesday and head to the White House to be signed into law.

Twelve Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the measure over a 60-vote filibuster threshold demanded by Republican leaders.

Most Senate Republicans opposed the legislation despite the sweeping Republican support it enjoyed in the House last week.

The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, opposed the measure. He is embroiled in a primary with a challenger from the low tax, small government, tea party movement.

Nobody is claiming the pact worked out between the Ryan and Murray is perfect. It eases $63 billion in scheduled spending cuts over the next two years and replaces them with longer-term savings measured over 10 years, many of which don't accumulate until 2022-23. Deficits would increase by $23.2 billion in 2014 and by $18.2 billion the year after that.

But the deal would put a dysfunctional Washington on track to prevent unappealingly tough cuts to military readiness and weapons, as well as continued cuts to programs cherished by Democrats and Republicans alike, including health research, school aid, FBI salaries and border security. The cuts would be replaced with money from, among other things, higher airline security fees, curbs on the pension benefits of new federal workers or working-age military retirees, and premium increases on companies whose pension plans are insured by

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