Congress Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget

Apr 29, 2009 6:59pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Senators voted 53-43 to pass a 3.5 trillion dollar five year budget plan proposed by President Obama. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the same measure earlier in the day. All Republicans opposed the bill. Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska opposed the resolution. Sen. Arlen Specter, who is in the purgatory between parties as he trades in his GOP card for a Democratic one, voted against it too. The budget itself is a nonbinding document that sets priorities for federal spending. But it accounts for much of President Obama’s agenda, like legislation to address climate change, continuing tax cuts for the middle class for the next several years and enacting a universal health care reform. The budget does includes one binding aspect – so-called "reconciliation" language that Democrats could use later this year to do an end run around a Republican filibuster of Democrats ambitious universal health care reform proposal. Democrats have promised to use reconciliation to pass health care reform only if bipartisan negotiations break down, but Republicans have criticized Democrats for just keeping that option open. Republicans have also criticized the budget for poling on near-term debt. It foresees a $1.7 trillion deficit this year and a $1.2 trillion deficit next year, although those numbers include government spending like the stimulus, which is meant to be a one-time kick start for the economy. It does not explain how Democrats will pay for the health care reform, which will require a significant down payment, perhaps over $1 trillion. The President does not have to sign the budget bill. But now the real work begins as Congress takes the budget resolution as a guideline and begins crafting authorization and appropriations bills to fund the government.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus