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WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington.
The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target.
After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another economy-damaging standoff.
The campaign to control the debt is ending ‘‘with a whimper not a bang,’’ said Robert Bixby, executive director of the bipartisan Concord Coalition, which advocates debt reduction. ‘‘That this can be declared a victory is an indicator of how low the process has sunk. They haven’t really done anything except avoid another crisis.’’