Senate Passes Budget Bill

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Congress Sends Budget and Debt Deal to Obama.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress early Friday sent President Barack Obama an ambitious budget and debt measure that averts a catastrophic national default and sets spending priorities for the next two years.

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved a crucial bipartisan budget agreement early on Friday that would avert a government default and stands to end nearly five years of pitched battles between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration over fiscal policy. Senate voted 64-35 early Friday morning to approve a budget deal that would raise the debt ceiling through 2017, effectively ending the threat of a government shutdown until after the 2016 presidential election. 18 Republicans ultimately joined with the Democrats to push the legislation through Congress and send it to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. EDT, with Democrats and Republican defense hawks uniting to overcome opposition from GOP presidential candidates Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, both members of the body. Obama had negotiated the accord with congressional leaders who were intent on steering the institution away from the brinkmanship and shutdown threats that have haunted it for years. Former House Speaker John Boehner felt a particular urgency to get the legislation finished before leaving Congress, while many lawmakers wanted the issue resolved as they look ahead to presidential and congressional elections next year.

The deal would increase spending by $80 billion over two years and raise the federal debt ceiling, averting a default that the Treasury had warned would happen early next week. The opposition was strong in the Senate, and Paul, a Kentucky Republican, left the presidential campaign trail and returned to the Capitol to criticize the deal as excessive Washington spending. Republicans control both chambers and have been at loggerheads with Democrats on fiscal matters for years. “This agreement isn’t perfect,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took part in weeks of negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House to hammer out the deal.

In an hour-long speech that delayed the start of the final vote, Paul said Congress is “bad with money.” He railed against increases in defense dollars supported by Republicans and domestic programs supported by Democrats. The measure calls for corresponding budget cuts to avoid increasing the deficit, including reductions in Medicare payments to doctors and other health care providers. Despite flaws, McConnell said the bill “rejects tax hikes, secures long-term savings through entitlement reforms, and provides increased support for our military.” “But this budget agreement accomplishes two major priorities that Democrats have long supported,” Reid said. “Number one, it promotes economic growth by providing relief from sequestration’s damaging cuts for two years. Speaking on the Senate floor late Thursday, he said the Republican majorities had given Obama a “diamond-encrusted, glow-in-the-dark Amex card” for government spending. To pay for the spending boost, the bill seeks cost savings from programs that benefit America’s elderly and boosts revenue through a series of one-time measures, such as the sale of oil from the government’s emergency petroleum reserve.

Ted Cruz (R-Texas) compared approving the budget compromise to giving Obama a “diamond encrusted glow in the dark AmEx card” that would be paid off by future generations. The rare overnight votes, beginning with a 1 a.m. procedural measure and ending with final passage shortly after 3 a.m., was a consequence of the bitter disagreement among Republicans.

There’s also a drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and savings reaped from a Justice Department fund for crime victims that involves assets seized from criminals. That would allow the money to be captured within the 10-year window used for budget-scoring purposes. “Yes, it adds $2.3 billion into the 10-year window,” he said. “It’s actually zero savings. Reid said in a statement after the vote. “Together, Democrats and Republicans have proven that, when partisan agendas are set aside, we can find common ground for the common good.”

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