Congress is on the verge of adopting a federal budget this week without the threat of a government shutdown or any other form of economic or political crisis, a development so unusual that the institution suddenly does not resemble its most recent partisan self. “Look at how we’re coming out of this bill — without rancor, without finger-pointing,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) said in an interview Tuesday. “The tone has been one of courtesy and focusing on the compelling needs of the United States of America, which is to promote growth and reduce the debt. We have met that test.” The first votes are expected Wednesday on the $1.1 trillion spending plan, less than 48 hours after negotiators introduced the 1,582-page spending agreement to fund government operations for the rest of the fiscal year. The House is scheduled to vote on the measure Wednesday and the Senate could begin debating it Wednesday evening. After months of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans seemed eager Tuesday to quickly approve the plan — even if they don’t have enough time to read it.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged to reporters that “I would like to have more time” to debate and pass the measure. But he added, “I think, under the circumstances, what we’re doing is appropriate.” Government funding was set to expire Wednesday, but the House took steps Tuesday to approve a three-day extension of spending levels, giving Congress until Saturday to approve a final deal. The Senate was expected to approve the extension late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Congressional Republicans cheered that the Pentagon will have about $20 billion in funding restored, even as domestic agencies endure further cuts, robbing President Obama of many of his spending requests. But Democrats celebrated significant increases in funding for early-childhood education and their successful efforts to block Republicans from using the legislation to roll back Obama administration policies on the environment, immigration, infrastructure spending and foreign aid. Eager to avoid another deadline-driven spending disagreement, Mikulski and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) quietly began sketching out an agreement in the fall, even before a separate negotiating team finished the budget Congress approved last month. More