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US Senate set to approve huge 2013 spending bill

US Senate set to approve huge 2013 spending bill

The Senate moved ahead toward a Wednesday vote on a huge, bipartisan spending bill aimed at keeping the U.S. government running through September and ruling out the chance of a government shutdown later this month.
Senate leaders announced Wednesday afternoon that a logjam that has stalled the bill since Tuesday had been broken and that the measure would pass by late afternoon and return to the House, where a vote on Thursday would send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
A vote was scheduled on an amendment that is aimed at shifting money within the National Park Service to try to make sure the White House remains open to tours, a proposed cutback that was bitterly opposed by Republicans and meaningless and symbolic, and meant to punish tourists.
The measure would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, provide another $87 billion to fund overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and maintain a pay freeze for federal workers.
The measure gives the Pentagon much-sought relief from a cash crunch in accounts for training and readiness, gives veteran health programs their scheduled increases and sets the detailed, line-by-line budgets for agencies such as Commerce, NASA, Agriculture and Justice.
The measure leaves in place automatic budget cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 8 percent to the Pentagon. The cuts have largely been unnoticed by the public but are making lawmakers uncomfortable, especially as intermittent layoffs known as furloughs begin to take effects next month.
Democrats have generally resisted efforts to fix the automatic cuts on an ad hoc basis, arguing that the so-called "sequester" on spending needs to be replaced in its entirety as part of a broader budget deal.
The automatic cuts, unwanted by both parties, took effect earlier this month because the two sides failed to compromise on a better plan for dealing with the U.S. deficit.
The developments in the Senate come as the House resumed debate on the budget for next year and beyond. Republicans are pushing a plan that promises sharp cuts to federal health care programs and domestic agency operating budgets as the price for balancing the budget in a decade. That plan, by Budget Committee chairman and failed Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, also contains a hotly contested provision calling for transformation of Medicare federal health benefits for beneficiaries born in 1959 and after into a program that subsidizes health insurance premiums instead of directly paying hospital and doctor bills.
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Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this story.


Updated : 2021-07-24 14:03 GMT+08:00