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Senate approves 2-year budget deal that raises spending limits

| Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted early Friday morning to approve a two-year budget deal that would increase spending limits and avert a damaging default, essentially ending the budgetary battles that have defined President Obama's relationship with Congress in recent years.

The legislation passed by a vote of 64-35, overcoming objections from conservative senators, including presidential candidates Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that forced a rare series of votes at 1 a.m.

Obama said he'll sign the measure “as soon as it reaches my desk.”

“I applaud the Democrats and Republicans who came together this morning to pass a responsible, long-term budget agreement that reflects our values, grows our economy and creates jobs,” he said.

The agreement, announced this week, is the result of tightly held negotiations between congressional leaders in both parties and the White House. Once signed, the deal will lift the so-called sequester spending caps and increase discretionary spending by about $80 billion over two years, an amount that will be split equally between defense and domestic programs.

To offset this cost, negotiators tapped a number of sources, including making changes to Medicare and Social Security, auctioning off government-controlled wireless spectrum, selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and tightening tax rules for business partnerships.

In addition, the legislation will limit a historic premium increase for some Medicare Part B beneficiaries, set to go into effect next year, for services such as hospital care and doctor visits.

The agreement will prevent a potential 20 percent across-the-board cut to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits scheduled to take place next year, by transferring resources from the main Social Security fund and making changes to the program.

Paul criticized Senate leaders for caving in to demands from Democrats to negotiate on spending rather than using the debt limit deadline to force Obama to make spending cuts.

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