Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have reached an agreement on a budget deal that would avert a repeat of October’s government shutdown.
Murray and Ryan chair the Senate and House budget committees and are the lead negotiators for their parties on the agreement.
The mini-bargain — the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013” — sets discretionary spending levels a little above $US1 trillion for the next two years, while repealing and replacing some cuts of sequestration. In fiscal year 2014, spending is set at $US1.012 trillion, which sits about halfway between the proposed levels of the House and Senate budgets. Current law under sequestration calls for caps of $US967 billion.
The legislation provides $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, which is split evenly between defence and non-defence programs. This is offset by targeted spending cuts and non-tax revenues that total $US85 billion. Ryan and Murray said that the deal reduces the deficit between $US20 million and $US23 billion.
Murray said that the deal includes an additional $US6 billion in revenue from additional federal worker pension contributions. Military employees take the same hit in the deal.
The preliminary agreement still has to pass both chambers of Congress before Jan. 15 to avoid another shutdown.
Over the past two days, conservative opposition has ramped up to the prospect of the deal because of its proposed higher-spending levels, signaling that the legislation could face some trouble passing the House of Representatives. Ryan, however, said that he expects the legislation to pass the House by a “healthy vote.” He said that the House leadership team is “supportive of this.”
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor both applauded the deal in statements Tuesday night.
“While modest in scale, this agreement represents a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings,” Boehner said in a statement.
President Barack Obama also praised the deal.
“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like — and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That’s the nature of compromise,” Obama said.
“But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done. That’s the way the American people expect Washington to work. I want to thank Senator Murray, Congressman Ryan and all the other leaders who helped forge this bipartisan agreement. And I want to call on Members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and actually pass a budget based on this agreement so I can sign it into law and our economy can continue growing and creating jobs without more Washington headwinds.”
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