Senate to Speed Federal Budget Deal to House

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A prolonged fight over the federal budget appears to be nearing an end as congressional leadership and the White House reached a bipartisan deal that would run until March 2017.
     The text of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 appeared on the House of Representatives website late Monday night, allowing members to begin consideration of the deal. It needs to pass both houses of Congress to become law.
     In addition to slight spending increases, the budget bumps up the debt limit and provides for reforms to entitlement programs. The Senate faced an early November deadline to raise the debt limit and has been operating under a continuing resolution that runs until December.
     Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid hailed the agreement as an end to sequester cuts Tuesday morning.
     “Democrats have long called for bipartisan action to stop devastating sequester cuts from hitting our nation’s military and middle class,” Reid said in the statement. “With this agreement, we’ve done just that.”
     Both Republicans and Democrats claimed victory on the deal Tuesday. Democratic leadership praised the balanced increases in both defense and non-defense spending over the life of the deal, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell trumpeted the first reform of the Social Security Act since the Reagan administration.
     Citing its $33 billion increase in both defense and non-defense spending, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he hopes for the bill to clear the Senate as early as this week.
     “This is how we should be doing things,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “Democrats and Republicans working together to come up with something that is good for the country. This is a victory for the country.”
     McConnell also praised the agreement for not adding to the deficit and suggested the increase in the debt limit did not come without concessions from the other side, despite what Democrats claimed.
     “I think the agreement speaks for itself,” McConnell said. “The debt ceiling is part of it and has along with it other matters, including what we said from the beginning was essential to get Republican support for raising the debt ceiling, which is entitlement reform of some significance.”
     “It doesn’t look like a clean debt ceiling to me,” he added later.
     Reid told reporters Tuesday he believed the “vast majority” of Democrats would support the bill, while McConnell could not put a timeline on the passage of the agreement in the Senate, saying it depended upon the support of his colleagues how many procedural hurdles the agreement would need to clear.
     The House is expected to take up the budget agreement on Wednesday.

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