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Toomey: 'no' on budget deal

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) will oppose the bipartisan budget deal scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week, he said in a news release Friday afternoon, criticizing the plan for increasing spending above the levels that had been previously agreed to.

"I have maintained that any budget deal alternative to current law must preserve the taxpayer savings of existing law. The budget agreement does not accomplish this basic goal," said Toomey's release. "Instead, this deal establishes new, higher budget caps to increase spending. The deal purports to offset those increases. But it does so, in some cases, with gimmicks and to a large degree with higher revenues."

Toomey, a fiscal hawk, has long fought for lower spending and taxes and "pro-growth" programs, so his opposition to a plan that increases spending, averts some budget cuts and raises some fees is not surprising.

Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth had lobbied against the bill because of its spending increases and some liberals have opposed it too out of concerns that it does not renew emergency unemployment benefits set to expire. Still, it is widely expected to get through the Senate next week.

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said he would back the deal, praising it for the compromises included.

"This is a bipartisan budget deal that has a lot in it that we should be proud of," he told CBS radio in New York. "Frankly, this is what whould happen in Washington. There's too much partisan gridlock and this is a time when we showed we could come together."

Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) is also expected to support the plan.

"Neither side is happy with everything in the proposal but, in a year filled with far too much partisan fighting, this compromise is certainly a step in the right direction," Casey said in a news release. "It will help grow the Pennsylvania economy and provide two years of budget certainty, reducing partisan fights that only lead to short-term agreements."

The two-year budget deal, struck by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is aimed at escaping the fiscal crises that have characterized Washington for the past several years and that led to October's government shutdown. It would undo some of the spending cuts under the sequester – which forced blunt, across the board cuts in January and will lead to more cuts next month, unless the new budget is approved.

The plan, modest in scope (it neither addresses entitlement programs, as Republicans want, nor significantly increases revenue, as Democrats want) would raise federal spending by $48 billion over the next two years and $62 billion over the next decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Overall, it is expected to reduce the deficit by $85 billion, though much of the savings come in the next decade through budget cuts extended into 2022 and 2023.

People on both sides of the aisle have complained about the details but th plan won overwhelming support in the House as lawmakers seek to avoid more fiscal showdowns.

The House approved the plan 332-94 Thursday. Every member of Congress from Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs supported the measure.

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