March 12, 2014
US Senate passes budget deal, focus shifts to spending
The US Senate passed a two-year budget deal to ease automatic spending cuts and reduce the risk of a government shutdown, but fights were already breaking out over how to implement the budget pact.
By a vote of 64-36, the Senate sent the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law, an achievement for a divided Congress that has failed to agree on a budget since 2009.
"All told, it's a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy," Obama said in a statement.
He also urged Congress to pass an extension of long-term unemployment benefits that expire at year-end for some 1.3 million jobless Americans, a move sought by Democrats that was not part of the deal struck by Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray.
The budget measure, passed in the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming margin, restores overall fiscal 2014 spending levels for government agencies 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.
It pays for the additional near-term spending with a variety of other savings, including increased airport security fees paid by airline passengers and pension benefit cuts for new federal employees and working-age military retirees.