Senate Passes Budget Blueprint, Gives Obama Key Victory

Posted April 29, 2009 at 5:02pm

The Senate passed the 2010 budget resolution, 53-43, Wednesday without any Republican votes, giving President Barack Obama another high-profile victory before his 8 p.m. press conference to mark his first 100 days in office.

The House voted 233-193 earlier in the day to back the $3.4 trillion budget blueprint, which sets limits for legislation to follow, including the annual appropriations bills.

Four Democratic Senators, including newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), opposed the budget resolution. Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) also voted “no.—

Specter had objected to the inclusion of fast-track rules that will allow the Senate to pass health care reform with a simple majority vote.

The inclusion of those reconciliation rules gives Democratic leaders the ability to bypass the concerns of Specter and other conservative Democrats, although leaders have said repeatedly that they see them as a last resort and would prefer to work out a bipartisan deal.

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, said their budget plan would set the country on a far different path than that charted by former President George W. Bush, one that would invest significantly in health care, energy and education.

The blueprint sets the stage for a wholesale reform of the nation’s health care system, continued tax cuts for the middle class and higher tax rates for those making more than $250,000. It also predicts the largest budget deficits in the history of the country, although the blueprints presume that those deficits will drop significantly within five years.