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Senate Passes Compromise Budget

The $1.95 trillion plan passed the Senate by a mostly party line 53-47 vote in the evenly-divided chamber.

The plan underwent several modifications between President Bush’s desk and the Senate floor, including a reduction in Bush’s long-desired tax cut. Mr. Bush had pressed for a $1.6 trillion cut implemented over 10 years — the final budget calls for a $1.35 billion reduction over 11 years.

The plan will also keep federal discretionary spending to a 4 percent growth rate next year — forcing spending down to the level President Bush requested.

Two Republicans — James Jeffords of Vermont and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island — voted against the measure, while five Democrats — John Breaux of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Max Baucus of Montana, and Max Cleland and Zell Miller of Georgia — broke ranks to support it.

Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) congratulated the president following today’s vote.

“You didn’t get everything you wanted, Mr. President,” Domenici said.”You have made us change direction. You have moved us in the direction of giving back taxes to the American people, rather than giving them the last cut of the deck.”

But Senate Democrats like Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) said the budget plan was out of sync with the country’s needs.

“There’s no balance in this budget,” Byrd said. “It’s tipped too far to the tax cut side like a seesaw — it lifts some people up with generous tax givebacks, but it leaves this nation’s needs sitting firmly on the ground.”

Among the Democrats’ chief arguments against the budget was a decision in the House to omit a funding increase of $300 billion over 10 years for education. Republican leaders said the amended budget would still increase money spent on education, but said more money could be added by the Senate later this year.

The plan, which does not require President Bush’s signature, passed the House Wednesday in a 221-207 vote.