RAY SUAREZ: In other news today, the Commerce Department reported economic activity fell more than 6 percent in the first quarter of this year, but consumer spending rebounded somewhat.
And the Federal Reserve announced the outlook has improved modestly in the last month. Fed policymakers left interest rates unchanged at record lows. In a statement, they said, “The worst of the recession, in terms of economic activity, could be passed.”
The news sparked a rally on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 168 points to close at 8,185. The Nasdaq rose 38 points to close near 1,712.
There was word Chrysler and Italian automaker Fiat are on the verge of signing a partnership by tomorrow. That’s the deadline for Chrysler to restructure if it wants more federal assistance.
Various news accounts said Chrysler will survive and avoid being broken up. The company could still wind up in federal bankruptcy protection for a short time.
The House adopted much of President Obama’s budget. It totaled $3.4 trillion and focused heavily on health care, clean energy, and domestic initiatives. The vote was strictly down party lines. Republicans attacked the forecast of trillion-dollar deficits, but Democrats defended the plan.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, House minority leader: What we see before us is a budget resolution that is nothing short of the most audacious move to a big, socialist government in Washington, D.C., than anything I could have ever dreamed about before I ran for Congress or, for that matter, any time over the last 18 years that I’ve been here.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., speaker of the House: We are not here to heap mountains of debt on our children and our grandchildren. That is what was done in the last eight years in the Bush administration. This budget calls a halt to that and says, “No.” It says, “No more debt. We’re going in the opposite direction.”
RAY SUAREZ: Later, the Senate adopted the budget, as well.
In Iraq, twin car bombings in Baghdad killed at least 41 Iraqis. The explosions tore through a busy market in Sadr City, the capital’s main Shiite district. In addition to the dead, nearly 70 people were wounded. It was the latest in a string of attacks, mostly targeting Shiites.
Air strikes by Pakistan’s military killed dozens more Taliban militants. Government forces claimed they recaptured the main town in Buner district, 60 miles outside the capital.
Elsewhere, a suspected U.S. missile strike killed at least five militants in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
The Taliban warned today it plans a new wave of attacks in Afghanistan this spring. That word came as Britain pledged to send another 700 British troops on a temporary basis to secure August elections. And Australia said it’s sending an additional 450 soldiers.
Spain’s top investigating magistrate has opened a probe of alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay under the Bush administration. Judge Baltasar Garzon said he will investigate those who carried out torture and those who ordered it. He asked for copies of documents released this month by the Obama administration.