Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage

Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage

 
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, spoke to members of the media on Tuesday.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York TimesStephen Crowley/The New York Times

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Published: December 17, 2013 194 Comments

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan tax-and-spending plan designed to bring some normalcy to Congress’s budgeting after three years of chaos cleared its final hurdle on Tuesday when 67 senators voted to end debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote before it goes to President Obama for his signature.

The 67-33 vote easily surpassed the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster and made way for final passage with a simple, 51-vote majority, likely on Wednesday. Republican support was surprisingly strong after days of uncertainty fueled by political posturing and Tea Party opposition.

The budget plan would restore $63 billion to defense and domestic programs in fiscal 2014 and 2015 from the levels they would have received if automatic, across-the-board spending cuts were to resume in January. Over 10 years, the plan would decrease cumulative deficits slightly by trimming military and federal worker pensions, extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare providers into next decade and making other changes, like ending federal research for some fossil-fuel discovery efforts. Continue reading “Senate Ends Budget Debate, Clearing Way for Passage”

Military retirees: You betrayed us, Congress

Military retirees: You betrayed us, Congress

By Jennifer Liberto  @CNNMoney December 12, 2013: 3:12 PM ET

 military vets
Retired military veterans are outraged that their pensions are being cut by the budget deal.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney)

Military retirees are outraged that Congress will start voting Thursday on a budget deal that trims military pensions, calling the move “an egregious breach of faith.”

The Military Coalition, some 27 military groups, wrote to leaders in Congress and President Obama late Wednesday about their “strong objection” and “grave concern” over the budget deal.

The deal cuts pension cost of living raises by 1% for military retirees who aren’t disabled and not yet 62 years old. Cost of living hikes are automatic raises intended to keep up with inflation. Continue reading “Military retirees: You betrayed us, Congress”

How Congress’s odd couple reached a remarkable budget deal

How Congress’s odd couple reached a remarkable budget deal

Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray are, in many ways, opposites. But their budget deal shows the parameters of bipartisanship today: Think narrow, be pragmatic, and talk … a lot.

By , Staff writer / December 11, 2013

This file photo shows House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D) of Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington. The two struck a bipartisan budget deal Tuesday.

Scott Applewhite/AP/File

Washington

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin and Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington could hardly be more unlike.

Representative Ryan is the conservative wunderkind who could have been the vice president of the United States by now. Senator Murray is the former preschool teacher who works quietly behind the scenes and once basically ran the Senate Appropriations Committee for Robert Byrd, the powerful Democrat from West Virginia, when he was ill.

Ryan is Captain Cutback – the man whose vision for reforming Medicare and Social Security make Murray shudder right down to the soles of her sensible shoes. In fact, Murray reportedly advised her close ally, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, not to accept a compromise with Republicans during the October government shutdown, worried that the deal would involve too much of a hit to safety-net programs. Continue reading “How Congress’s odd couple reached a remarkable budget deal”

A Least Bad Budget Deal

Review & Outlook

A Least Bad Budget Deal

More spending now for some genuine, if modest, reforms.

Dec. 10, 2013 11:20 p.m. ET
The best that can be said about the House-Senate budget deal announced late Tuesday is that it includes no tax increases, no new incentives for not working, and some modest entitlement reforms. Oh, and it will avoid another shutdown fiasco, assuming enough Republicans refuse to attempt suicide a second time.

The worst part of the two-year deal is that it breaks the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The deal breaks the caps by some $63 billion over the two years and then re-establishes the caps starting in 2016 where they are in current law at $1.016 trillion. Half of the increase will go to defense and half to the domestic accounts prized by Democrats.

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Breaking the caps is a victory for Senate Democrats and House Republican Appropriators like Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, who will get more money to spend and will dodge another continuing resolution that doesn’t allow them to set spending priorities. It would be nice to think they’ll spend the money on such useful purposes as cancer or Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health. But they will also get to dole out pork. The deal means overall federal spending will not decline in 2014 as it has the last two years.

WIsconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Sen. Patty Murray in a press conference on the budget plan. Bloomberg News Continue reading “A Least Bad Budget Deal”

UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation

Reuters

UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation

Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:30am IST

* Democrat Murray, Republican Ryan announce two-year accord

* Approval could quell government shutdown threats

By Richard Cowan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) – A bipartisan budget deal announced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, though modest in its spending cuts, would end three years of impasse and fiscal instability in Washington that culminated in October with a partial government shutdown.

While praised by the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the agreement faces a challenge from some House conservatives and will require support of the minority Democrats to pass.

The backing of President Barack Obama, who also hailed the agreement as “a good first step,” should help round up votes of his fellow Democrats. He urged Congress to quickly pass it.

Obama and most congressional leaders long ago abandoned talk of larger but increasingly elusive “grand bargains” that would significantly slash the nation’s deficit. Continue reading “UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation”