U.S. budget deal clears crucial vote in Senate

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:30pm EST

1 of 12. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) talks to reporters after a Senate cloture vote on budget bill on Capitol Hill in Washington December 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A two-year U.S. budget deal on Tuesday cleared a Senate procedural vote that all but assured its passage by a simple majority later this week in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

The Senate voted 67-33 to limit debate on the measure, exceeding the required 60 votes and overcoming the opposition of conservative Republicans who objected to increased near-term government spending.

Twelve Republicans joined 53 Democrats and two independents in supporting the measure, which aims to minimize the threat of another government shutdown through October 1, 2015. It won passage in the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin last week.

A 16-day partial government shutdown in October left many Republicans skittish about withholding their support for legislation to keep agencies operating.

The Senate, where Democrats have a 55-45 majority, is expected to vote on final passage of the budget measure as early as Wednesday.

Several conservative Republican senators, including Tea Party supporters Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, tried to stop the measure and keep automatic "sequester" spending cuts in place. The budget deal eases some of the sequester cuts by allowing budgets for government agencies and discretionary programs to rise by $63 billion over two years in exchange for future savings elsewhere.

But a mix of moderate and conservative Republican senators voted to proceed to an up-or-down vote on the deal, which was negotiated by Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan.

The margin of victory is expected to be close on the final vote, however. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee who faces a tough re-election primary challenge, voted "yes" on the procedural question but said he would ultimately oppose the deal.

"I will vote against the budget agreement because it avoids the federal government's most urgent need: reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending," Alexander said in a statement.

The measure sets spending levels ranging from the military to national parks at just over $1 trillion for two fiscal years. Assuming it wins final passage and is signed by President Barack Obama, Congress must then pass a spending measure that allocates funds by January 15 when current government spending authority expires.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Kenneth Barry)

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Comments (37)
CliftonC wrote:
The senate needs to do the right thing and reject this “kicking down the road” budget deal. It does nothing to address the the growing U.S. debt problem. Get a back bone Senators.

Dec 16, 2013 9:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, in a statement, said that while the deal “isn’t everything I’d hoped it would be…sometimes the answer has to be yes.”

Well you can just color me all sorts of surprised at that statement… The Party of “No” just might become The Party of “Ugh…Fine”.

Although, leave it to them to “grudgingly” accept a budget bill that does nothing to reign in spending on their favorite waste of money: war- er, “defense” spending.

Dec 17, 2013 10:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
WhyMeLord wrote:
Unless women (and adoptive men) quit having babies and increasing the population, and these babies quit demanding to be taken care of, and the elderly keep living longer and longer requiring more and more care, it’s hard to see how we can “reign in run-away spending”.
In case none of the GOP/NRA/TEA party coalition morons never studied
economics, as the population of a country grows, its infrastructure costs more to maintain. K.I.S.S.; the more people, the more costs.

Dec 17, 2013 12:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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