WASHINGTON — The budget compromise announced last week is well on its way for final passage after clearing a procedural measure in the Senate on Tuesday.
Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are on board, though not overly enthusiastically, as has often been the case with this budget deal.
Franken said Tuesday he was backing the bill because, by setting two years-worth of budget targets, it removes the threat of a government shutdown, giving businesses more certainty that the government would remain open.
But, “any time you do a compromise, you’re going to have things in it that you don’t like,” he said. “That’s the nature of these things. People want us to do that. There are things in this I don’t like.”
For one, the bill doesn’t extend an emergency unemployment insurance program set to expire on Dec. 28. Without it, 8,500 Minnesotans are set to lose benefits that day. The Senate may try to fund those benefits retroactively when it returns to work in January.
The bill raises spending levels for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, ending some of the sequestration cuts that had been set to take effect. There is also $85 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years, and though neither Republicans nor Democrats love the deal, most are willing to accept it rather than risk a government shutdown next year.
Sixty-seven senators voted to bring the bill to the floor for debate on Tuesday, more than enough to both break a potential filibuster and pass the bill when it comes up later this week. When the House considered the bill last week, it passed easily.
“It’s not the major deal that would create, I think, the kind of balanced deal we need going forward for years, but I do think it’s a very positive step in the right direction,” Klobuchar said last week.
“As much as I would have liked to see something more comprehensive, it’s a good start, and it’s a good way of not having this constant shutdown threat now for a number of years.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry