Budget Deal Bumbling Forward: Senate Prepares for Vote

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On December 17, with a count of 67 to 33, the U.S. Senate voted to end debate on the federal budget compromise proposed by the budget conference committee and passed by the House of Representatives last week, opening the door for a vote to approve the legislation, expected for Thursday.

The budget was proposed by a committee established as part of the stopgap deal that ended the 16-day partial government shutdown in October. The committee is co-chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who appeared to be so exhausted by political warfare that they sought the path of least resistance and concocted a ceasefire so modest that it appears to offend only the relatively radical members of Congress.

The ingredients — relief from spending cuts, no new taxes, a dash of deficit reduction — all speak to the kind of fiscal responsibility that is needed right now. However, while the overall dish appears palatable to most legislators as well as President Barack Obama, there is still some resistance, mostly from the Republican camp. Senate debate was ended with the support of every Democrat and a dozen Republicans.

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