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Alaska delegates back bipartisan budget bill

By KTVA CBS 11 News 12:05 PM December 13, 2013

Both Sens. Begich and Murkowski spoke positively about the bill, and said while it’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing.

ANCHORAGE – Members of Congress passed a bipartisan budget deal for the first time in four years this week.

Alaska’s lawmakers were on board. Both Sens. Begich and Murkowski spoke positively about the bill, and said while it’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing.

It could be backlash from October’s government shutdown that sparked a spirit of compromise in lawmakers. Murkowski spoke about the bill Wednesday, and called the October impasse “inexcusable.”

“We clearly must avoid another government shutdown,” she said.

The budget is expected to land on the Senate floor as early as next week. After the bill passed the House, Begich said he appreciated the fact the bill would reduce the national deficit.

“It’s doing strategic cuts, it’s a balanced approach and ensures that we are eliminating programs that are just not necessary or are no longer needed in the federal government,” he said.

Murkowski said she also plans to support the budget bill.

“It continues us on the path of decreased spending which is good,” she said. “It helps avoid some of those very deep cuts to the defense budget which is an imperative.”

The bill decreases the deficit by $23 billion, and eases the deep cuts known as sequestration.

But it doesn’t extend unemployment benefits for more than a million out-of-work Americans, nor does it address what Murkowski calls the real cost-driver: mandatory spending. Congress also needs to address tax reform, Begich said, but the bill is a step in the right direction.

“It’s not a perfect bill, but let’s move something forward,” he said. “We now — for the first time in four years — have a strongly bipartisan piece of legislation.”

The bill is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate with the support of both parties, and President Obama is expected to approve the budget, too. Begich cited recent Senate rule changes as one of the reasons for the break in Congressional gridlock. Filibusters can now be shut down by a simple majority vote, which Democrats already have.

Republicans objected to the rule change, and said it trampled on the rights of the minority party.

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