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March 27, 2013

Congress gets it right, for now

NORMAN — The good news is Republicans and Democrats in a divided Congress finally agreed to a plan to fund the government through September.

The bad news is it only covers the next six months and their plans for the next budget are miles apart. Already the rhetoric has been cascading down the black hole of sequestration.

The House approved on a 318-109 bipartisan vote last week to agree to a budget that goes through Sept. 30. It went along with some changes to its original proposal by the Senate, which voted to approve it in a bipartisan 73-26 vote. The budget avoids a government shutdown that could have occurred when the previous temporary measure was set to expire today.

The plan leaves in place many of the automatic cuts brought about by sequestration but made budget adjustments so food inspectors would not be furloughed and tuition assistance programs to veterans would continue. Some other spending shifts were adopted as well but offset by changing spending in another area.

Still, we have to credit even small successes in our politics today. Credit goes to leaders in the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, for getting this done and not resorting to another “crisis” management situation that rattles world financial markets.

While “Kumbaya” seemed to be the song of the day in Congress after passage, the longer term budget battle ahead between House Republicans and Senate Democrats suggests a more heavy metal tone.

Let’s hope President Obama and other leaders can bottle whatever it was that helped bring agreement on the short-term budget and use it to bring about a long-term budget solution.

— The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

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