Wednesday, January 15, 2014

House Passes Budget for 2014

Washington (CNN) -- A $1.1 trillion compromise spending bill that funds the government through September won approval Wednesday from the Republican-led U.S. House and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The appropriations measure, approved 359-to-67, would roll back some past spending cuts, raise federal worker pay and touch the everyday life of all Americans.
Compromise on the fiscal year 2014 spending bill is a break from years of congressional funding fights that included a government shutdown last October.
The Senate is expected to also pass the so-called "omnibus" bill and send it to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
Wielding the power of one of the biggest purses in the world, the measure sets America's national and international priorities. In the partisan atmosphere of an election year, the spending bill may be the largest policy decision Congress makes in 2014.
It calls for 1% increases in the paychecks of federal workers and military personnel, the first raises in three years for most agency workers.
The spending measure also would protect disabled veterans and some military spouses from a pension cut set to go into effect in 2015.
Appeal for both sides
Democrats like a $1 billion increase in Head Start funding for early childhood education from its recent low point after forced budget cuts last year. Half of the money will go to help children 3 years old and younger, touching on an Obama administration priority.
For Republicans, the compromise reduces funding to two of their least-favorite agencies -- the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. Overall, federal spending would be lower than the final budget of President George W. Bush's administration.
Changes at the airports may be the most visible Republican idea in the bill. The measure launches several policies aimed at forcing the Transportation Security Administration to get more low-risk passengers through security more quickly.
Obamacare mostly untouched
Obama's signature health care reforms avoided any harsh cuts sought by conservative Republicans hoping to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
On another controversy, the spending plan requires Secretary of State John Kerry to certify the Libyan government is helping find those responsible for the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi before any more foreign aid goes to the country.
The bill also contains countless smaller provisions such as a ban on funding any new portraits of most officials.
Current funding under a continuing resolution that extended spending at previous levels expires on Wednesday, and Congress passed a further three-day extension to give the Senate time to vote on the compromise 2014 bill later this week.

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