publication date: Dec. 17, 2013


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By Matthew Bin Han Ong

The House of Representatives voted 332-94 to approve a two-year budget outline Dec. 12 that would cancel $63 billion in sequester cuts for 2014 and 2015—in exchange for extending sequestration through 2023.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass next week. President Barack Obama has indicated that he would sign the 77-page bill.

“It clears the path for critical investments in things like scientific research, which has the potential to unleash new innovation and new industries,” Obama said in a statement Dec. 10.

The bill gives Congress about one month to complete the appropriations process before the current continuing resolution expires Jan. 15.

Crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the deal signals a breakthrough in negotiations for a Congress that has been locked in a series of partisan fiscal fights. The deal represents the first compromise on the nation’s finances through the full appropriations process since April 29, 2009.

The measure sets discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between each party’s original proposals—a $45 billion increase over the level mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Also, the deal provides the spending cap for 2015, and likely assures that the federal government would remain open through 2015, potentially allowing Congress to finalize the FY 2015 appropriations process before next year’s midterm elections.

Thirty-two House Democrats voted against the bill, with many opposed to the lack of an unemployment insurance extension. About 1.3 million Americans will stop receiving checks on Jan. 1, 2014.

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