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March 17, 2013

Graves: House likely to approve budget plan this week

The federal government has operated without a budget for almost four years, due to the Senate’s inability to pass a budget. But U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, said that could change this year.

“We passed the ‘No Budget, No Pay Act’ a few weeks ago. The Senate is now required to provide a budget if they want to be paid,” he said. “They have now decided to provide a budget, and it’s my understanding they’ll be voting on in the next couple of weeks.”

The House Budget Committee passed its budget on Wednesday night, and Graves expects the full House of Representatives to vote on that plan this week. After the Democratic-controlled Senate passes its budget, the two chambers will have to work out the differences.

“Now we’ll have two plans to look at and compare. And now we’ll have both parties and the president fully engaged in putting a plan out there that shows the American people how we should be governed,” he said.

That House plan promises to balance the federal budget in 10 years, largely by cutting the rate of growth of federal spending. The plan would reduce long-term Medicare costs by changing it to a premium-support plan in 2024 that subsidizes private health insurance for those receiving Medicare. Current retirees and those who will retire in the next 10 years would not be affected. The House budget would also repeal the Affordable Care Act, called Obamacare by some.

“It would stop all future tax increases and simplify the tax code and break it down into just two brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent,” Graves said. “That means filing your taxes would be simpler and people would keep more of their paychecks.”

Graves said that rates can be lowered because the budget plan would eliminate many “loopholes.”

“It would eliminate a lot of corporate welfare, the individual industry-specific items. It would get the tax code out of picking winners and losers,” he said.

Graves said the budget plan also “fast tracks” approval of the Keystone pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline has been approved by all of the states it would run through, but President Barack Obama rejected the pipeline last year, saying it needed more study. The administration is expected to rule on it again by this summer.

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