The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a two-year, bipartisan budget plan that moves onto the Senate next week before going to President Barack Obama.
The budget passed overwhelmingly in a 332 to 94 vote, including 164 Democrats and 169 Republicans. President Obama has expressed his support for the bill. In addition to budget allocation, the bill addresses the sexual assault cases in the military. Military commanders no longer have the ability to overturn sexual assault cases and victims of sexual assault in the military have greater protections.
The bill outlines $1.012 trillion in government spending, reducing the deficit by more than $20 billion. The bill includes more targeted spending cuts in order to balance spending. $63 billion is allocated to temporary sequester relief, and $85 billion worth of programs have been cut from the budget. The plan includes funding for the Affordable Care Act, increased government spending, and increased taxes. Republican say the new deal is moving “in the wrong direction,” but Democrats call the bill “a small positive step forward.”
The budget does not include unemployment benefit extensions for the one million Americans whose benefits are set to expire in January, but White House spokesman Jay Carney urged Congress to take up the issue in 2014.
The 2014 budget does not solve any major problems, but it avoids another period of government shutdown. Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says the budget “reduces the deficit—without raising taxes. And it does so by cutting spending in a smarter way. It doesn’t go as far as I’d like, but it’s a firm step in the right direction. This agreement will stop Washington’s lurch from crisis to crisis. It will bring stability to the budget process and show both parties can work together.” In a year where Congress has only passed 15 bills, many fear bipartisan cooperation is dead.
– Stephanie Lamm