Budget Bill Heads Toward Senate Approval

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Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks while flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd-L), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) (L) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (R), during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on December 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Senate is poised to pass a new bipartisan budget agreement after the measure cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday morning.

Lawmakers in the upper chamber voted 67-33 to cut off debate on the budget bill crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). All Senate Democrats voted to move forward, and 12 Republicans joined them. Final passage is almost certain, with a vote expected by Wednesday. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The bill would set spending levels for the next two years and undo some of the automatic spending cuts mandated by so-called “sequestration,” while removing the threat of a government shutdown and perhaps even putting a stop to the cycle of budget brinksmanship that has defined Congress the last few years.

The House passed the bill last week with the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the desk counting the vote, “How many we got?” After a few minutes with the tally well past the necessary 60 votes, Schumer said, “I’m going to make Christmas dinner for everyone!”

“Chuck Schumer ham,” he announced, surrounded by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Murray.

The budget deal replaces about $63 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts to establish “top-line” appropriation numbers for 2014 and 2015 between $1.012 trillion and $1.016 trillion. The last time Congress adopted a budget resolution was in 2009.