Senate passes budget, President Barack Obama expected to sign it

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the first time in what seems like ages, Congress has passed a government spending plan without resorting to last-minute brinkmanship such as midnight negotiations to prevent an imminent government shutdown.

The Senate voted 64-36 on Wednesday to send the compromise federal budget framework to President Barack Obama, who has signaled his support.

Last week, the budget plan easily passed the House on a 332-94 vote, with solid majorities of both parties supporting it.

While Wednesday's Senate vote was closer, nine Republicans joined the majority Democrats to provide the support needed to reach the required majority of at least 51 votes to pass.

The plan guides government spending into 2015,defusing the chances of a shutdown like the one in October that generated public anger against Congress, particularly conservative Republicans blamed for the impasse.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the budget committee leaders in both chambers, negotiated the deal that eliminates some forced spending cuts known as sequestration that both sides disliked while reducing the deficit by more than $20 billion in coming years.

Mixed opinions

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday showed that 50% of respondents supported the budget plan while 35% opposed it. According to the survey, a majority of Democrats and independents backed the proposal, while only 39% of Republicans liked it.

Some Senate Republicans have said the most important issue at the moment was to lower the budget deficit, even if only by a small percentage, and avoid another damaging scenario like the 16-day government shutdown in October.

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he wanted "to make sure we avoid any additional government shutdowns."

"The federal government does enough harm to our economy," Johnson said. "We don't need to add additional harm by this crisis management."

Conservative GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said in a statement that "sometimes the answer has to be yes."

"Ultimately, his agreement upholds the principles conservatives stand for and, with Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate, it is the best we can hope for," he said of the plan.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said his side dislikes some elements of the agreement, but that's life in divided government when the Senate and House are controlled by different parties.

"We need to get some certainty, and that's what this does," he said Tuesday night on CNN, adding: "Nothing's going to be perfect in this world. It's called compromise."


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