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Nevada senators split on advancing federal budget bill

WASHINGTON — Nevada’s senators split Tuesday on a vote that advanced a two-year budget bill toward final passage.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who had signed off on the agreement negotiated by one of his leadership deputies, voted for it.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller voted against the agreement, as he had announced earlier.

The Senate is expected to take a final vote today. The 67-33 vote Tuesday demonstrated the bill had enough support to overcome a filibuster. Sixty-votes were needed, and a dozen Republicans joined Democrats to surpass that threshold.

The House passed the bill last week, 332-94, with almost equal support from lawmakers of both parties.

“I’m very happy, satisfied that we had 12 Republicans voting with us,” Reid said after the vote. “I’m looking forward to final passage so we can avert another dangerous and costly government shutdown in January.”

Heller did not comment on the vote. He said on Friday that he believed the bill was merely a short-term fix that would do little to address the nation’s debt problems. He said he opposed cuts in military retirement benefits that are called for in the bill.

The deal negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would set federal budget targets for Congress to meet in each of the next two years, an achievement that aims to end gridlock over spending that caused the 16-day government shutdown in October.

The bill would restore $63 billion over the two years that had been targeted for automatic cuts under the 2011 sequester law. It offsets that spending with $85 billion in revenues, through a combination of new fees and reductions elsewhere.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.

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