Congress sends budget and debt deal to Obama

Published 9:39 am Friday, October 30, 2015

WASHINGTON — Legislation sparing the country the specter of a catastrophic default and partial government shutdown is ready for President Barack Obama’s signature after the Senate passed it by a comfortable margin.

Senators voted 64-35 for the measure, which also provides a two-year budget, in the early hours today. Democrats teamed with Republican defense hawks to overcome opposition from conservatives including two GOP senators running for president — Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Obama had negotiated the accord, passed by the House earlier this week, with congressional leaders who were intent on avoiding the brinkmanship and shutdown threats that have haunted the institution for the past several years. Departing Rep. John Boehner of Ohio made it his top priority in his final days as speaker before making way for Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

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The deal allows members of both parties to look ahead toward next year’s presidential and congressional elections. Republican leaders were particularly concerned that failure to resolve this vexing issue could reflect poorly on their ability to govern. There was significant opposition in the Senate, nevertheless, as Paul and Cruz made it a point to be on the floor to register their concerns.

In an hour-long speech that delayed the final vote to around 3 a.m., Paul said Congress is “bad with money.” He railed against increases in defense dollars supported by Republicans and domestic programs supported by Democrats.