A two-year compromise budget deal is a presidential signature away from becoming law, after the Senate gave final passage to the measure on Wednesday evening by a 64 to 36 margin. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 67 to 33 to advance the bill, overcoming the threat of a filibuster. It needed a simple majority to pass the Senate on Wednesday.
The Ryan-Murray deal, which has faced criticism from both parties, funds the government at slightly above sequestration levels, or just over $1 trillion a year through 2015. The deal is most notable for what it prevents: an additional round of sequestration cuts, scheduled to take effect at the beginning of 2014. The sequestration cuts are designed to act as an incentive for Congress to agree on a budget, but the first round of cuts earlier this year were were ultimately embraced by the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
But the next round of cuts turned out to be a different story, and conservative House Republicans protesting the Ryan-Murray negotiation ended up facing a very angry Speaker John Boehner. In the end, the bill flew through the Republican-controlled House. The deal will also prevent another government shutdown in the near future, putting an end to a cycle of short term stopgap measures to keep the government open.
The budget pays for $63 billion in partial sequestration relief with a series of new cuts and fees, including higher fees for airline travelers and increased pension contributions for many federal employees. In all, the bill contains $85 billion in savings. The remaining $22 billion will go towards paying down the country's debt.
The deal does not include one big provision sought by Democrats in negotiations: an extension of benefits to long-term unemployed Americans. Those benefits expire on December 28, affecting 1.3 million Americans. President Obama supports the deal, and will sign it into law when it reaches his desk.