Senate Committee Approves Budget Resolution
As expected, the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday voted 11-10 along party lines to approve a "scaled-back" version of President Bush's fiscal year 2007 budget proposal, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. The budget resolution, which was proposed on Wednesday by committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), does not include Bush's proposals for expanding tax benefits for health savings accounts and restricting spending on Medicare, the AP/Chronicle reports (Taylor, AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/9).
The $2.8 trillion resolution includes $873 billion for discretionary programs but generally does not affect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, according to CongressDaily (Hess/Povich, CongressDaily, 3/10). It would produce a $359 billion budget deficit for FY 2007, which would decrease to $177 billion by 2011 (AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/9).
In approving the resolution, Republicans on the panel rejected several proposed amendments from Democrats, including $5 billion for pandemic flu preparations, $1.5 billion for veterans' health care and $5 billion for interoperable radios for first responders, among other measures (Dennis, CQ Today, 3/9). The resolution will go to the Senate floor on Monday (AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/9).
Gregg on Wednesday said that the resolution does not include more cuts because there are not enough Senate votes to pass them (California Healthline, 3/9).
However, "with congressional election-year anxiety running high, there's no guarantee" that the Senate will pass the resolution even with the scaled-back cuts, the AP/Chronicle reports.
"I'm not going in with the votes, I can tell you that much," Gregg said on Thursday, adding, "There's a high level of angst and indecision out there."
In addition, Democrats and some Republicans are opposed to some nonhealth care measures in the resolution -- such as a provision to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- which could make for a tight vote if there are "additional defections" from Republicans, according to the AP/Chronicle (AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/9).
Gregg said he expects that the Senate will not hold "a final vote until the end of next week" (CongressDaily, 3/10).