New trillion-dollar budget deal means Washington avoids shutdown


US lawmakers have reached agreement on a two-year, more than 1-trillion-dollar-per-year budget that averts a damaging government shutdown and also increases the government’s debt limit, Speaker of the House John Boehner said Tuesday.

The budget increases spending by 80 billion dollars over the course of two years – 50 billion in 2016 and 30 billion in 2017 – with the increases split between defence and non-defence spending. An increase in the debt ceiling was also approved, designed to allow US borrowing through March 2017.

The House of Representatives was to vote on the measure Wednesday, said Boehner, the top Republican in the House. He is due to leave Congress at the end of October.

Republicans are also due Wednesday to endorse their choice for the next speaker, Representative Paul Ryan. The full House is set to vote on Ryan’s bid to be speaker on Thursday.

Acting on the budget this week will help to shield Ryan from the fallout of a potentially contentious budget fight that could have resulted without the agreement.

“I made it clear a month ago when I announced that I was leaving that I wanted to do my best to clean the barn,” Boehner said. “I didn’t want him to walk into a dirty barn full of you-know-what.”

Ryan, who made his name in Congress through his command of budgetary issues, however expressed dismay with the way the budget was crafted by a small group of leaders – representatives of both parties and both chambers of Congress – meeting behind closed doors.

“This deal isn’t perfect by any means – but everyone should acknowledge what our alternative was,” Boehner said, pointing to the dangers of operating under a series of short-term budget deals and defaulting on the debt. He also lauded reforms contained in the budget.

The White House welcomed the budget deal.

“The two-year bipartisan budget agreement announced today is a major step forward for our economy,” said Jason Furman, the head of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.

“As our strong domestic economic momentum continues to face headwinds from slowing growth abroad, it is critical to avoid the self-inflicted wounds of past episodes of fiscal brinksmanship.”

Lawmakers had faced a deadline to raise the debt ceiling next week and a budget deadline of December 11.