US House passes bipartisan $1.4 trillion spending Bill

United States (US) House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, returns to his office after a vote on the House floor to approve a spending bill, at the US Capitol in Washington on Jan 15, 2014. The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly a
United States (US) House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, returns to his office after a vote on the House floor to approve a spending bill, at the US Capitol in Washington on Jan 15, 2014. The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a US$1.1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) spending bill on Wednesday that quashes the threat of a government shutdown through Sept 30 and offers lawmakers a chance to end four years of chaotic, crisis-driven budgeting. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a US$1.1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) spending bill for fiscal year 2014, capping a months-long negotiation that signals a truce in three years of fiscal battles plaguing Washington.

The measure, which funds the federal government under the budget framework hammered out by Democrats and Republicans last month, passed 359-67, in a strong show of bipartisanship that belies the intense bickering that has marked recent debates and over how - and how much - to fund government.

It now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass this week before being signed into law by President Barack Obama.

"It was very very difficult, but we did it," said House Democrat Barbara Lee, stressing that the compromise agreement "gets us out of this cycle of government by crisis". It also eliminates the threat of a government shutdown this month, similar to the one that paralysed Washington for 16 days in October when Congress failed to agree on a budget.

The high-stakes omnibus spending Bill sets discretionary spending limits line by line for each federal agency until Sept 30, when fiscal year 2014 ends.

The measure includes some US$92 billion for foreign US military operations, mainly the war in Afghanistan, and US$6.5 billion for extraordinary expenses linked to natural disasters.

"This Bill is not perfect, I hate to tell you, but it is a good one," said veteran congressman Hal Rogers, powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who steered negotiations on the spending.

Republicans hailed the deal for slashing discretionary spending for the fourth year in row.

And "by placing the power of the purse back in the hands of Congress and away from the executive branch, our representative Democracy is functioning the way our Founders had intended," number three House Republican Kevin McCarthy said in a statement.

Despite the savings trend, overall federal expenditures were set to rise slightly in 2014 as the deal erases painful and automatic spending cuts that were due to kick in on Jan 1 for the next two years.

The discretionary budget only represents about a third of federal public spending.

It does not include mandatory spending, such as the Medicare insurance programme for the elderly and Social Security, set to reach US$2.196 trillion in 2014, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.