Week Ahead in Congress: Senate Faces Year-End Deadline on Budget, Defense Bill

By Mak, Tim | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, December 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Week Ahead in Congress: Senate Faces Year-End Deadline on Budget, Defense Bill


Mak, Tim, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The House has already left town for the holiday recess, and so all eyes will turn this week to the Senate, which must pass a budget compromise and other critical legislation before leaving town as well.

Budget bill

The biggest item on the Senate's agenda is a contentious budget compromise needed to avoid a second government shutdown in mid- January.

The budget bill will dampen the impact of budget cuts known as sequestration, largely by raising government user fees. Conservatives derided those fee hikes as tax increases, but the Republican-run House easily approved the deal, 332 to 94, before leaving town Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Sunday filed a procedural motion to end debate on the budget bill, setting the stage for a vote on Tuesday and final passage by week's end.

The most serious challenge to the budget bill comes from conservative Republicans, who object to the suspension of sequester- driven spending cuts. The compromise raised spending levels to about $1 trillion a year for two years, reflecting Democrats' call to protect domestic programs and Republicans' desire to insulate the Pentagon from deep reductions.

Heritage Action and other outside conservative groups, the force behind the Obamacare defunding effort that led to a government shutdown in October, denounced the compromise.

"By increasing spending, increasing fees and offering up another round of promises waiting to be broken, the deal represents a step backwards," Heritage Action said in a statement.

Ryan defended the compromise, saying that a second government shutdown in mid-January, when the current budget bill expires, could be devastating for Republicans.

"Government has to function, and we saw the specter of two possible government shutdowns in 2014 . …

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