WASHINGTON Dec 18 The U.S. Senate was ready on
Wednesday to pass a two-year budget deal aimed at avoiding a
government shutdown in January despite objections by senators
from both parties to proposed pension cuts for military
Final passage was all but assured on Tuesday when the Senate
voted 67-33 to advance the measure to a final, simple majority
vote late Wednesday afternoon in the Democratic-controlled
The deal, passed by the House last week, restores overall
fiscal 2014 spending levels for so-called "discretionary"
programs to $1.012 trillion, trimming the across-the-board
budget cuts that were set to begin next month by about $63
billion over two years.
The money to offset the restored funds will come from a
variety of sources, including increased security fees for
airline passengers and pension-related cuts for federal
employees and military retirees.
The small-scale deal does not increase tax revenue as
Democrats wanted nor cut non-discretionary federal benefits
programs, known as "entitlements," as Republicans wanted.
The military retiree pension cuts sparked the most debate.
Republican Senator John McCain urged passage because the
deal would spare the military from much larger budget cuts in
2014, which would impact training and military readiness.
"This is the essence of what we're supposed to be doing,"
McCain said. "The option of shutting down the government is
something that I don't really understand."