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DALLAS (AP) — A Texas woman and former actress pleaded guilty Tuesday to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under a deal that her attorney has said would cap prison time at 18 years.
Congressional negotiators reached a modest two-year US budget deal that would avoid a repeat of October's government shutdown, signalling a temporary truce in fiscal wars that have paralyzed Washington. The agreement, brokered by Democratic Senator Patty Murray and House Republican Paul Ryan, sets the new annual budget caps for 2014 and 2015 at just over $1 trillion -- slightly higher than current levels -- and partially repeals the unpopular automatic budget cuts known as "sequestration." Importantly, a budget bill under the agreed framework would free legislators to focus on how to reduce the main drivers of the country's debt, such as entitlement programs including Medicare, without the specter of a budget showdown every six or 12 months. "I see this agreement as a step in the right direction," Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and chairman of the House Budget Committee, told reporters, noting that the deal does not raise taxes on Americans.