Senate passes bipartisan budget agreement

By , Published: December 18

J. Scott Applewhite/AP - Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) discusses the compromise spending plan during a television news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, 12/18/13

Congress declared a holiday truce in the budget wars Wednesday, sending President Obama a blueprint for funding the government through 2015. But the next skirmish was already on the horizon: an election-year fight over the national debt.

The budget deal that passed the Senate on Wednesday amounts to a handshake agreement to avoid a government shutdown when a temporary funding measure expires Jan. 15. However, the accord does not address the need once again to raise the debt limit, setting up a potentially complicated confrontation in late February or early March.
That fight would come just months before midterm congressional elections, and the GOP is deeply divided over tactics to deal with the debt, a core issue for the Republican base. Some conservatives are calling for another showdown, insisting on an additional round of spending cuts in exchange for granting the Treasury Department more borrowing authority to pay the nation’s bills.
But GOP leaders, especially in the House, have no appetite for another Washington fiscal crisis that could destroy their popularity among voters, aides said. Instead, they are hoping for a more peaceful resolution modeled on the latest budget deal — a bipartisan compromise that solves small problems and aims to offend almost no one.

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