House, Senate Negotiators Announce Budget Deal

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from The Wall Street Journal,

House and Senate negotiators, in a rare bipartisan act, announced a budget agreement Tuesday designed to avert another economy-rattling government shutdown and to bring a dose of stability to Congress’s fiscal policy-making over the next two years.

Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who struck the deal after weeks of private talks, said it would allow more spending for domestic and defense programs in the near term, while adopting deficit-reduction measures over a decade to offset the costs.

Revenues to fund the higher spending would come from changes to federal employee and military pension programs, and higher fees for airline passengers, among other sources. An extension of long-term unemployment benefits, sought by Democrats, wasn’t included.

The plan is modest in scope, compared with past budget deals and to once-grand ambitions in Congress to craft a “grand bargain” that would restructure the tax code and federal entitlement programs. But in a year and an institution riddled by gridlock and partisanship, lawmakers were relieved they could reach even a minimal agreement.

“In divided government, you don’t always get what you want,” said Mr. Ryan in announcing the deal.

Ms. Murray joined him in welcoming the prospect that lawmakers would steer away from a crisis-driven budget process. “We have lurched from crisis to crisis, from one cliff to the next,” she said. “That uncertainty was devastating to our fragile economic recovery.”

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