House approves budget deal aimed at averting shutdown

congressSEATTLE -- A compromise federal budget plan that would remove the threat of a government shutdown for two years won easy approval Thursday from the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

The deal worked out by House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray passed on a 332-94 vote and now goes to the Democratic-led Senate, which is expected to approve it as early as next week.

It represented rare convergence between the two parties on government spending after two years of bitter debate and political brinksmanship that included the 16-day shutdown in October.

Public anger over the Washington dysfunction, especially with conservative Republicans who triggered the shutdown by trying to link federal spending to their efforts to dismantle Obamacare, motivated GOP leaders to shrug off far right opposition to the budget compromise.

A small step

House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged the measure amounted to only a small step toward the GOP goal of deficit reduction and balancing the budget, but he rejected opposition by some conservatives in his caucus as well as outside groups on the political right.

"Is it perfect? Does it go far enough? No, not at all," Boehner said in urging his colleagues to back the plan, noting it resulted from "doing what the American people expect us to do -- coming together and finding common ground."

Ryan noted that Washington politicians have "been at each other's throats for a long time" over budget issues, and Republicans must first win some elections in order to get all the deficit reduction and spending cuts they want.

Democrats also hailed the budget proposal as a "small positive step forward," in the words of Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

He and other Democrats called for Congress to also extend long-term unemployment benefits for more than 1 million Americans set to expire after Christmas, but their support for the budget plan showed they dropped any demand to link the issues in Thursday's vote.

On the Senate side, GOP conservatives including Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they will oppose the budget plan, which would need some Republican support for Democrats to overcome an expected filibuster.

"The new budget deal moves in the wrong direction: it spends more, taxes more, and allows continued funding for Obamacare," Cruz said. "I cannot support it."

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