Augusta Free Press

House, Senate reach tentative budget deal

House and Senate budget negotiators have struck a deal that would avoid another government shutdown and would set spending levels for 2014 and 2015 above the level set by the sequester.

The bipartisan deal struck Tuesday will go up for a vote in the House later this week. House Speaker John Boehner called the deal “a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings.”

“This framework is consistent with sequester replacement legislation passed by the House in 2012.  It would also help to further reduce the deficit without tax hikes that would hurt our economy.  Lastly, this agreement would help protect important national security priorities,” Boehner said.

President Obama used similar language to Boehner, calling the compromise “a good first step.”

“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That’s the nature of compromise,” Obama said. “But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done. That’s the way the American people expect Washington to work.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the House-Senate budget conference committee, said he hopes the compromise “allows us to step away from the irrational harm of sequestration, which hits Virginia harder than any other state.”

“This is a productive step forward that avoids another shutdown and allows the government to operate with more predictability over the short term. I have some concerns about the impact on the federal workforce and our military retirees, which is another reason why we need to tackle the larger and more important issues of tax and entitlement reforms to fix our balance sheet over the long term,” Warner said.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is also a member of the bipartisan budget committee. Kaine said the deal “goes a long way toward alleviating the most harmful effects of sequestration next year – cuts that have disproportionately impacted federal employees and the defense community – and restoring basic economic certainty to businesses and families across the Commonwealth.”

“It also ensures we won’t suffer another damaging government shutdown next month that would have resulted in more negative consequences for federal employees,” Kaine said.

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