Ahead of the Christmas holiday, House and Senate negotiators from both parties have introduced a deal designed to avert automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 15.
The agreement is narrow -- not the "grand bargain" some members of both parties had hoped for. The bill does not tackle Medicare and Social Security, and it would raise military spending and domestic spending without raising taxes. It also doesn't address long-term unemployment benefits which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Nor does it address the government’s borrowing limit -- the so-called "debt ceiling" -- that is set to be reached in early February.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the compromise at a news conference.
Under the deal, federal workers would contribute more to their pensions, and travelers would pay higher fees on airline tickets.
Ryan called the plan "a step in the right direction."
"I think this is a clear improvement on the status quo," he said, adding that it "brings normalcy back to government."
Lawmakers wanted to introduce the bill before midnight so members of the House could have an opportunity to vote on it before Friday, when they are scheduled to head home to their districts.