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Monday, December 18, 2017

Washington (AFP) – Congressional negotiators reached a deal Tuesday on US federal spending, budget officials said, which if passed by lawmakers would avoid a disastrous repeat of a government shutdown that paralyzed Washington.

Sources say the 2014-2015 budget agreement, brokered by Senate Democrat Patty Murray and House Republican Paul Ryan in weeks of closed-door negotiations, sets the new annual budget caps at about $1 trillion, and at least partially repeals the automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

Details were to be unveiled at a 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) press conference.

Under a deal reached in October that ended a crippling 16-day shutdown, federal spending authority expires on January 15, when a new agreement will need to be in force.

By most accounts Tuesday’s deal is an underwhelming one, far from the grand bargain envisioned by some optimists in Washington earlier this year.

But it sets the warring Democratic and Republican Parties on track for further cooperation on fiscal policy, ending the cycle of budget feuding that has marred Washington since 2011.

The challenge now, however, is selling the agreement to skeptical conservatives and liberals in the House of Representatives and US Senate.

Each chamber must pass a budget bill by January 15 or risk another government shutdown.

Conservative groups such as Americans For Prosperity have already come out opposed to the agreement, saying it blows past the budget caps established in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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