House OKs Budget Bill

WASHINGTON (January 15, 2014) The Republican-led House Wednesday approved a massive $1.1 trillion bill to finance government agencies this year.

With none of the drama and conflict of recent budget battles, lawmakers approved the measure 359-67.

The Democratic-led Senate plans to vote final approval later this week.

The 1,582-page bill provides money for virtually every federal agency for everything from airports to war and eases many but not all of the automatic spending cuts that took effect last year.

The lack of drama flowed from the bipartisan agreement enacted in December that laid out spending totals for the next two years.

The bill approved Wednesday filled in the details.

Lawmakers from both parties had little taste for an election-year standoff that might have triggered another government shutdown - which voters hated.

Meanwhile Wednesday Republicans and Democrats were both pledging Wednesday to renew efforts at resurrecting jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, even though immediate compromise prospects seemed dim one day after the Senate deadlocked on the issue.

Several officials in both parties said Wednesday a key sticking point centers on a Republican demand to include a provision that would repeal changes in benefits for military retirees that cleared Congress late last year.

Other obstacles include differences over the duration of any renewal of jobless benefits and steps to offset the cost so deficits don't rise.

The issue revolves around aid for laid-off workers who have exhausted state benefits, which generally last 26 weeks.

Under an expired program, federal aid was available for up to another 47 weeks, depending on the level of statewide unemployment.

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