Bipartisan budget deal clears Congress, heads to Obama


WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speak to the media at the White House on November 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Congressional leaders met with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss deficit reduction and other economic issues. (Photo by Roger Wollenberg/Getty Images)


Roger L. Wollenberg

Pushing politics aside for a change, the Senate passed a bipartisan budget deal Wednesday that will fund the federal government for the next two years, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

And all without even the hint of a government shutdown.

More from GlobalPost: What the budget deal means for you

Having cleared the House last week, the bill drafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray easily hurdled a filibuster threshold in the Senate on Tuesday.

It passed 64-36 on a final Senate vote late Wednesday afternoon.

Obama was expected to sign the measure within days.

It was a rare display of budget bipartisanship in the wake of two years of confrontation and acrimony between Democrats and Republicans that led to a government shutdown for two weeks in October.

"This vote shows both parties—in both chambers—can find common ground," Ryan said following the Senate vote.

While relatively skinny at a modest 77 pages, the $1 trillion deal packs a big punch.

First and foremost, it restores $45 billion — or about half — of the spending that had been slashed as part of cuts imposed by the sequester.

More from GlobalPost: Boehner unloads on conservative groups opposing the budget deal

The military's discretionary budget will actually go up by $2 billion, and money will likely be restored to programs for the needy like Head Start and Meals on Wheels, many of which had suffered devastating losses under the sequester.

However, unemployment benefits will expire for about 1.3 Americans under the deal, and new federal employees will have to pay more into their retirement programs to keep pensions afloat.

One provision, cutting the inflation increases of pensions for military retirees under the age of 62, was proving to be especially unpopular among Republicans.

Several conservatives promised to oppose the measure in Wednesday's final vote because it fails to take on the nation's most pressing fiscal challenges.

But the deal advanced with the help of at least 12 Republicans.