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December 12. 2013 9:26PM

Budget gets House OK, heads to Senate

The House overwhelmingly passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday night.

In their final action of the year, the House approved the budget 332 to 94, with 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats voting in favor, and 62 Republicans and 32 Democrats voting against. Earlier Thursday, lawmakers agreed unanimously to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military pay and policy, and to extend current agricultural policy after negotiators failed to complete a new Farm Bill.

“After months of brinksmanship and bitter partisanship, it’s encouraging to see both parties engaged in good-faith budget negotiations,” U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., said in a statement. “This proposal is far from perfect, but it’s a modest first step that will help move us beyond the cycle of manufactured crises and short-term decision-making that has put a drag on our economy and hurt middle class families.”

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., said she ultimately voted for the deal as part of a “hard compromise,” despite no agreement to extend unemployment benefits past Dec. 28.

“This was not a vote I took lightly. The notion that the only compromise our country can strike is one that leaves 1.3 million Americans without emergency unemployment insurance is deeply flawed, and it is outrageous that Republicans would not consider extending emergency unemployment insurance,” she said in a statement.

The Senate is poised to pass the budget and defense bills next week. House and Senate leaders say that votes on a new Farm Bill will be held after Congress returns to Washington in early January.

In a statement issued Thursday, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said the budget agreement fails in several ways.

“I cannot support a budget agreement that fails to deal with the biggest drivers of our debt, but instead pays for more federal spending on the backs of our active duty and military retirees — those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” she said. “My hope is that both parties can work together to replace these unfair cuts that impact our men and women in uniform with more responsible savings, such as the billions that the Government Accountability Office has identified in waste, duplication and fraud across the federal government.”

If the Senate approves the budget bill next week, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees would then work over the holidays to prepare funding bills for individual government agencies, which are likely to be combined into a single omnibus bill.

Although the agreement lessens the odds of another government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires Jan. 15, the omnibus bill must pass before that deadline to keep the government open.


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