House Passes Bush Budget ‘Blueprint’ Amid Dem Opposition
Republicans "pushed" a $1.94 trillion budget resolution for FY 2002 through the House of Representatives yesterday, moving President Bush's "blueprint" for tax cuts and "curtailed" spending over the "first major congressional hurdle," while Democrats complained that the plan would "do nothing to buttress" Medicare, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. While the House passed the resolution on a "near party line" 222-205 vote, Republicans "hailed their victory as a triumph." The package would pave the way for Bush's 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut, provide $2.3 trillion in debt reduction over the next 10 years, use parts of the Social Security and Medicare surpluses to "overhaul both programs" and limit many programs to 4% growth next year. Democrats said that the measure would "squander" the projected $5.6 trillion surplus and "shortchange" efforts to strengthen Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit to the program (Fram, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/29). They also said that the budget would "impose cuts" in children's health care programs (Welch, USA Today, 3/29). Still, Republicans "finessed" some Democratic concerns by adding a $517 billion, 10-year "contingency fund" that lawmakers could "tap" to boost funding for government agencies or to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The House yesterday also rejected, on 243-183 vote, an alternative plan proposed by Democratic leaders that would have provided a smaller tax cut, additional debt reduction and "more money" for a prescription drug benefit (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 3/29).