The House on Wednesday morning approved President Obama’s $3.5 trillion budget by a party-line vote, and the Senate is expected to clear it later this evening in time for the president’s prime-time press conference on the first 100 days of his administration.
Not a single Republican voted for the budget, which includes fast-track instructions to fast-track Democrats’ bid to overhaul the nation’s health-care and student-loan systems. Seventeen Democrats joined Republicans in voting “no,” with 233 Democrats voting in favor.
House and Senate budget chiefs trimmed Mr. Obama’s original $3.6 trillion budget proposal, leaving out certain items such as additional funding for bank bailouts and scaling back his “Make Work Pay” tax cut. Lawmakers also opted against reducing the level of charitable deductions taken by wealthy Americans, as the administration had proposed.
But the blueprint preserves many of Mr. Obama’s initiatives and tees up efforts by congressional committees to expand government-subsidized health care. It also implements an administration-backed plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions, though it stipulates that the final budget specify how to finance both reforms. Because health care was included under a procedural mechanism known as “reconciliation,” Mr. Obama’s health-care plan will require only 51 votes to pass the Senate.
The budget aims to cut the deficit from an expected $1.2 trillion this year to $523 billion by 2014.
Republicans attacked the deficit projections and said the Democrats’ spending programs will lead to unsustainable debts for the economy.
“We have to stop this spending spree and refuse to put $70,000 in debt on every man, woman and child in this country,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, during the floor debate. “We can do better.”