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US Moves Toward Budget Accord

Senate Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), right, and House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), depart after introducing The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, U.S. Capitol, Washington, Dec. 10, 2013.
The U.S. Congress is moving toward passage of a spending plan for the next two years that would avert another government shutdown like the one that occurred in October.

The Senate is likely to approve a budget next week that would call for spending about $1 trillion annually both next year and in 2015, and U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted the plan Thursday on a bipartisan vote, despite dissent from conservative Republicans who say it did not cut government spending as much as they wanted.

For the past three years, the Republican-controlled House has quarreled with Obama, a Democrat in his fifth year in the White House, over his more liberal spending proposals. That has led to a series of financial standoffs culminating in a partial government shutdown for 16 days in October.

The new pact would ease some of the budget-cutting Congress had earlier agreed to and trim $23 billion from the country's $17 trillion debt over the next decade. But budget negotiators again avoided dealing with other contentious financial issues, including an overhaul of the country's complex tax code and the burgeoning growth in spending for health care and pensions for older Americans.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), leader of the House Republicans, praised the budget compromise as a step toward limiting national government spending. He attacked some of his usual political allies, Tea Party conservatives and Republican lobbying groups, for trying to undercut the deal because they did not think it cut spending enough.

"When you criticize something and you have no idea what you're criticizing, it undermines your credibility," he said.

Some liberal Democrats also oppose the spending plan because it does not include an extension of unemployment benefits for long-term jobless workers that are set to expire at the end of the year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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