US Senate passes two-year budget deal

Measure reducing risk of another government shutdown still requires president's signature.

    The US Senate has passed a two-year budget deal to ease automatic spending cuts and reduce the risk of another government shutdown.

    The measure, which passed 64-36 with the support of nine Republicans and the entire Democratic caucus on Wednesday, will now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

    The deal, passed by the House of Representatives last week, restores overall fiscal 2014 spending levels for so-called "discretionary" programmes to $1.012-trillion, trimming the across-the-board budget cuts that were set to begin next month by about $63bn over two years.

    The money to offset the restored funds will come from a variety of sources, including increased security fees for airline passengers and pension-related cuts for federal employees and military retirees.

    The small-scale deal neither increases tax revenue as Democrats wanted, nor cut non-discretionary federal benefits programmes, known as "entitlements," as Republicans wanted.

    The Senate and House of Representatives appropriations committees now must craft a spending bill to implement the budget deal before current spending authority expires.

    Obama described the agreement as "a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy.

    "It helps chart our economic course for the next two years, which means that the American people won't be exposed to another painful and unwise government shutdown," he added.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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