Congress Passes Obama's Budget Plan
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Democratic majorities in the House and Senate hustled to give President Obama a symbolic victory on his hundredth day in office. They adopted a budget plan - a non-binding resolution that provides a framework for future legislation. Democrats largely followed the president's priorities. The blueprint that emerged got no Republican support. NPR's Audie Cornish reports from the Capitol.
AUDIE CORNISH: The budget process is something like a poker game. To get started, everyone has to be on the same page about the rules and the amount of money that's about to hit the table. For Congress, that amount is a bit more than three and a half trillion dollars for 2010, pretty close to what President Obama requested. Under the plan, the projected deficit would be $1.2 trillion. The only sure bet was that Republicans wouldn't support it.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio): Right here is the most expensive credit card in the history of the world.
CORNISH: That's Republican Minority Leader John Boehner waving around his House floor voting card.
Rep. BOEHNER: The American people expect us to use this credit card, this credit card that they gave us, they expect us to use this responsibly. And the responsible decision on this bill and on this budget is to vote no.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House): We are not here to heap mountains of debt on our children and our grandchildren.
CORNISH: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was armed with a large photo of an infant, her most recent grandchild.
Rep. PELOSI: We're going in the opposite direction. We're reducing the deficit as we create good-paying jobs in our economy, as we cut taxes for the middle class in our country.
CORNISH: Pelosi faced opposition from the deficit hawks in her own party. To get their votes, House leaders had to pledge to bring back so-called pay-as-you-go rules. They require any new spending on federal benefits to be offset by a corresponding cut or tax increase.
In the Senate, Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming had another concern. He opposed the inclusion of so-called reconciliation instructions. They would allow the president's upcoming health care and student loan proposals to get through the Senate with a simple majority, immune to Republican filibusters.
Senator MIKE ENZI (Republican, Wyoming): This is a disappointing day in the Senate. Reconciliation rehashes what we've been suffering from, the Pelosi war-cry: We won the election, we get to write the bills. It's not right.
CORNISH: Democrats call it insurance against gridlock. But now that a budget plan's been passed with no GOP support, all bets may be off.
Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.
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