U.S. Senate Passes Budget Deal, Sent to President
October 31, 2015
The Senate approved the budget deal after a procedural vote early Friday morning which passed, 63-35. Thirty-five Republican senators opposed the deal, though it was not enough to stop the bill from heading to President Obama’s desk. The Senate gave final approval to a large fiscal package that would prevent a U.S. default next week and lower the risk of a government shutdown in December.
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said, “I voted against this bill for a number of reasons. It spends too much on growing federal agencies like the EPA, IRS and the Department of the Interior, and spends too little on our nation’s defense and the brave young men and women who serve in our military. It also does nothing to grow the economy – which grew at an anemic 1.5% rate last quarter. Lastly, the bill is structured such that all spending will be up front, with promised savings in the future. Because of this, it will likely bring our national debt to over $20 trillion in the next two years. All of this puts our kids' and grandkids’ futures at risk.”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK) said she "reluctantly voted in favor of this bill". In a prepared statement Murkowski said, “While the Budget Act is an imperfect plan, it does prevent a government shutdown and the very real impact that would have on Alaskans. I reluctantly voted in favor of this bill because it provides relief from the financial brinkmanship that Alaskans have, unfortunately, become all too used to seeing from Washington. In less than a week, our nation’s treasury would be unable to pay its bills without this deal. Defaulting on our obligations is something I simply cannot accept."
The budget deal, the result of weeks of closed-door negotiations between McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, former House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, passed the House of Representatives late Wednesday with a vote of 266 to 167.
Alaska Congressman Don Young (R) voted against H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, passed in the House to suspend the federal debt limit until March 2017.
In a prepared statement U.S. Representative Young said, “Like many of my colleagues, I have concerns with a carte blanche suspension of the nation’s debt limit and the speculative offsets proposed to pay for this plan, including a sell-off of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. While I believe defaulting on our debt is both irresponsible and reckless, I also believe as a nation we must not give up on addressing federal spending and the leading causes of our spiraling debt.”
The two-year budget compromise that was approved by the U.S. Senate and sent to President Barack Obama on Friday (Oct. 30) also includes several changes to the Social Security disability income program, according to the head of the union representing federal disability case administrative law judges. It provides funding that officials say is necessary to offer full benefits to disabled people for at least the next three years and money to hire enough judges to clear a backlog of thousands of disability appeals, and it creates more federal-state disability investigative teams, expanding their use to all 50 states by 2022.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a United States government program that provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled. Although administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI is funded from the U.S. Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust fund.
The budget deal also closes the Social Security loophole known as "file and suspend". This means some couples will be getting less from Social Security than they expected due to a change in the way you can claim your benefits. The rule change goes into effect for new retirees starting in six months. It eliminates a claiming strategy known as "file and suspend." It will take away up to four years of spousal benefits that some people claim before filing for their own benefits. This could amount to thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, if you and your current spouse are full retirement age, one of you can apply for retirement benefits now and have the payments suspended, while the other applies only for spouse's benefits. This strategy allows both of you to delay receiving retirement benefits on your own records so you can get delayed retirement credits.
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Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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