- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Congress passed a new topline budget on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama’s desk for his signature and signaling all sides in Washington are trying to avoid another government shutdown in January.

The budget deal passed by a 64-36 vote with nine Republicans joining all Democrats. It passed the House last week by a bipartisan 332-94 vote where the majority of both parties supported the plan.

The two-year, $1.012 trillion deal written by Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, increases spending in the short term in exchange for fee hikes and increased pension payments for federal workers in later years. The extra money up front will be used to alleviate some of the budget sequester cuts.

“The bipartisan budget act puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back those automatic and harmful cuts,” Ms. Murray said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “It is not going to solve every problem the automatic cuts have caused, but it is a step in the right direction and a dramatic improvement over the status quo.”

Much of the debate on the bill on Wednesday centered around a provision that capped military retiree cost of living adjustments at 1 percent less than the consumer price index for retirees under 62. The provision, which wouldn’t go into effect until 2015, would save about $6 billion over 10 years.

Lawmakers didn’t realize the provision would apply to medically retired veterans injured in the line of duty, and vowed on Wednesday to introduce standalone legislation after the bill was passed to exempt medically retired vets from the cuts.

 

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