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Bipartisan Negotiators Seek Modest Budget Pact

Andrew Taylor & David Espo | Associated Press

Dec 10, 2013

Republican and Democratic negotiators reached out for a budget agreement Tuesday to reduce automatic spending cuts aimed at programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon, risking a backlash from liberals and conservatives, highlighting the difficulty of compromise within divided government.

Officials said that under the emerging agreement, an estimated $65 billion in automatic spending cuts would be restored through the end of the next budget year, which runs to Sept. 30, 2015.

The increases would be offset by a variety of spending reductions and increased fees elsewhere in the budget totaling about $85 billion over a decade, enough for a largely symbolic $20 billion cut in the nation's $17 trillion debt.

Among them is a requirement for federal workers to make larger contributions to their own pensions, as well as an increase in a federal security fee that would add $5 to the cost of a typical roundtrip flight.
It appeared Democrats would fail in their bid to include an extension of benefits for workers unemployed longer than 26 weeks. The program expires on Dec. 28, when payments will be cut off for an estimated 1.3 million individuals.

With Congress eager to adjourn for the year, there were expressions of optimism that an agreement might be near.

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