Senate OKs budget plan; battles with White House loom
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans muscled a balanced-budget plan through the Senate early Friday, positioning Congress for months of battling President Barack Obama over the Republican Party’s goals of slicing spending and dismantling his health care law.
The legislation, solidly ideological in tenor, is a non-binding blueprint that does not require Obama’s signature but lays the groundwork for future bills that seem destined for veto fights with the president, who is sure to turn away any steps to dismantle his health law.
Working into Friday’s pre-dawn hours, senators approved the blueprint by a near party-line 52-46 vote, endorsing a measure that closely follows one the House passed Wednesday. Both budgets embody a conservative vision of shrinking projected federal deficits by more than $5 trillion over the coming decade, mostly by cutting health care and other benefit programs and without raising taxes.
Republicans took control of the Senate in last year’s midterm elections and expanded their majority in the House, ensuring that the final two years of Obama’s term will be fraught with gridlock and partisan battles.
Democrats said the document relied on gimmickry and touted the wrong priorities.
The Senate and House budgets both matched the spending plan that Obama presented last month when it comes to defense, proposing $612 billion for next year, a 4.5 percent boost over current levels. Some conservatives were unhappy because they wanted more of the extra military spending to be offset with savings from elsewhere in the budget.
But mostly, the Republican blueprints diverge starkly from Obama’s fiscal plan.
While his leaves a projected deficit exceeding $600 billion 10 years from now, the Senate plan claims a surplus of $3 billion.
Over the decade, Obama would raise $2 trillion in higher taxes from the wealthy, corporations and smokers while granting tax breaks to low-income and middle-class families. He would boost spending on domestic programs including road construction, preschools and community colleges and veterans.
The Senate budget would cut $4.3 trillion from benefit programs over the next 10 years, including annulling Obama’s health care law.