US government budget deal clears key hurdle in Senate

Washington, Dec 18: A two-year budget plan crafted by bipartisan negotiators and passed by US House of Representatives last week cleared a Senate procedural vote Tuesday that all but ensures the bill will pass the Democratic-led Senate and eliminates the possibility of a government shutdown in next two years.

The Senate advanced the bipartisan budget agreement over a 60-vote threshold on a 67-33 vote Tuesday to cut off a potential filibuster debate. The upper chamber of Congress is expected to vote on final passage of the bill later this week.

The modest accord sets spending levels for the federal governmental departments slightly above $1 trillion for each of the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, eliminating $63 billion in ongoing automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester.

The 2014 fiscal year starts Oct 1.

Increase in the outlays would be offset by a variety of spending savings and revenue generators, including requiring federal employees to contribute more to their pensions and raising some government fees, which would total $85 billion in a decade.

In all, the deal would lower the budget deficit by more than $20 billion over a decade.