U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a two-year budget plan crafted by bipartisan negotiators, a further step toward removing the threat of a government shutdown early next year.
Lawmakers voted 332-94 in favor of the deal, which was unveiled Tuesday evening by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray and her House counterpart Paul Ryan.
The modest accord sets spending levels above 1 trillion U.S. dollars for the next two fiscal years, eliminating 63 billion dollars in automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester.
Increase in the outlays would be offset by a variety of spending savings and revenue generators, including requiring federal employees to contribute more to their pensions and raising some government fees, which would total 85 billion dollars in a decade. In all, the deal would lower the budget deficit by more than 20 billion dollars.
Top Republicans in the House strongly backed the deal after it came out, dismissing criticism from some outside conservative groups.
"If you're for reducing the budget deficit, then you should be voting for this bill," said House Speaker John Boehner during the debate on the House floor. "If you're for cutting the size of government, you should be supporting this budget."
However, the bill includes no new taxes and does not make any changes to entitlement programs, falling far short of a long-sought grand bargain which would solve the underlying fiscal issues.
The bill now heads to the Democratic-led Senate, where a vote is expected next week.