U.S. Congress approves new budget

Bill Enyart

Federal lawmakers approved a bipartisan budget deal that would avert another government shutdown this month and beef up spending for the military and domestic programs that were slated for cuts.

The vote was 332-94 in the U.S. House of Representatives and 64-36 in the U.S. Senate. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. Congress has failed to agree on a budget since 2009.

The budget deal restores overall fiscal 2014 spending levels for government agencies to $1.012 trillion, trimming the across-the-board budget cuts that were set to begin next month by about $63 billion over two years.

The House and Senate Appropriations committees will now have to cobble together a spending bill that implements the deal and carves up the funding pie among thousands of government programs from national parks to the military.

Without this new spending authority, the federal government could partially shut down on Jan. 15, as it did for 16 days in October.

Funding for most government operations is slated to run out on Jan. 15.

U.S. Rep. William Enyart (D-Belleville) voted in favor of the budget plan.

“While it is imperfect, it represents the best chance Washington has to come together and make progress for the good of our country,” Enyart said in a statement. “This budget doesn’t raise taxes on the middle class.  It protects Social Security and Medicare.  It begins to dismantle the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.  It ensures there will be no government shutdowns in 2014. And it puts our government back on a path to long-term constructive policy-making.”

Still, Enyart pointed out some concerns.

“While this bill ensures that no current federal employee or retiree will be impacted by pension changes, federal employees are again forced to take the brunt of the sacrifice,” Enyart said. “While future federal workers will be required to pay more for their retirement, we must make the hard choices to prevent the type of budget shortfall and pension crises like we’ve seen in the State of Illinois.”

Enyart also said he does not support changes in cost-of-living adjustments to military pension plans. He also believes an extension of unemployment benefits should have been included in this bill.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email