US House passes two-year cross-party budget deal
The US House of Representatives has approved a two-year federal budget bill in a strong showing of cross-party support, further avoiding the spectre of another government shutdown.
The measure, written by the Republican and Democratic heads of the House and Senate budget committees respectively, was approved by a 332-94 vote.
The budget proposal next goes to the Democrat-led Senate for approval.
US President Barack Obama has already publicly endorsed the bill.
The deal, reached on Tuesday and aiming to reduce the federal deficit by up to $23bn (£14bn), was met with overwhelming cross-party approval in the Republican-led House despite initial attacks from conservative activists.
‘Positive step forward’
Republican House Speaker John Boehner previously called the deal a “positive step forward”.
The White House praised the House’s swift passage of the measure in a statement on Thursday, saying “it marks an important moment of bipartisan cooperation and shows Washington can and should stop governing by crisis and both sides can work together to get things done”.
The bill was written by a cross-party Congressional budget committee convened after a 16-day government shutdown in October.
Government officials say the deal, which sets discretionary defence and domestic spending at $1.012 trillion for the current fiscal year, aims to carve $20bn – $23bn from the nation’s $642bn annual budget deficit.
It also rollbacks $63bn in previously enacted automatic military and domestic spending cuts triggered in January when Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a budget compromise.
‘A smarter way’
The new deal does not raise taxes but requires newly hired federal workers to make larger contributions to their pensions.
A federal airport security fee adding $5 to the cost of a typical return flight is also included.
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chair of the House budget committee, said on Tuesday the budget deal “cuts spending in a smarter way”.
It also helps avoid another potential government shutdown on 15 January when government funding is scheduled to run out.
US President Barack Obama publicly backed the proposal on Tuesday, saying “because it’s the first budget that leaders of both parties have agreed to in a few years, the American people should not have to endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years”.
The October government shutdown – which halted many federal services across the country – is said to have cost the US economy $24bn, as projected by financial services company Standard & Poor’s.