Congress declared a holiday truce in a years-long fight over the federal budget, sending President Obama a spending blueprint Wednesday that is designed to ease sharp spending cuts and keep government operations funded through 2015. Senators voted 64 to 36 to approve the bipartisan budget agreement Wednesday afternoon. Nine Republicans joined with 55 Democrats to approve the legislation, which Obama is expected to sign before departing this weekend for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
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.
A bipartisan budget agreement now appears to have sufficient support to survive a key procedural test vote in the U.S. Senate later this week. Final passage of the bill with a simple majority of senators doesn’t appear in doubt — but the legislation written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) must first clear a procedural hurdle to end formal debate on the measure and move to final passage.
Call it opportunity. Call it cold reality. The nation's space program is increasingly reliant on private partners to send astronauts into space as its slice of the federal budget diminishes. And an industry report issued Tuesday suggests that trend must continue if the U.S. wants to maintain its global leadership in space exploration.
Politics played a part in choosing the locations for many of NASA's most crucial facilities at the outset of the race to the moon in the 1960s, including Lyndon Johnson steering the Johnson Space Center and mission control for manned missions to Houston. Now, politics appears to be playing an even bigger part in preventing NASA from downsizing a costly and sprawling infrastructure that dates back to the spare-no-expense days of the Apollo era.
Here is a partial list of bipartisan budget negotiations we've had since 2010: The Simpson-Bowles Commission (which, people forget, was the legacy of a 2010 debt-ceiling increase). The Domenici-Rivlin commission. The Cantor-Biden talks. The Obama-Boehner debt-ceiling negotiations. The Gang of Six talks. The "Supercommittee." The Obama-Boehner fiscal-cliff talks.