The Herald Bulletin

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March 22, 2013

Late night: Senate Democrats work to pass budget

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats neared approval of their first budget proposal in four years on Friday, calling for almost $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade while sheltering safety net programs targeted by House Republicans. The Democrats also would reverse automatic spending cuts that are beginning to strike both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

The nonbinding but politically symbolic measure caters to party stalwarts on the liberal edge of the spectrum just as the House GOP measure is crafted to appeal to more recent tea party arrivals.

Approval of the Senate version was expected to come long after dark — after dozens of votes on amendments, many of which were offered in hopes of inflicting political damage on Democratic senators up for re-election in GOP-leaning states like Alaska and Louisiana.

Some $1 trillion in new revenue would flow to the government over the coming decade — on top of more than $600 billion in taxes on upper-income earners approved in January — and would be coupled with a net $875 billion in spending cuts. Those reductions would be generated by modest cuts to federal health care programs, domestic agencies and the Pentagon and reduced government borrowing costs. The budget proposes $100 billion in new spending for infrastructure projects and job training programs.

The president will reveal his own overdue tax-and-spending plan in two weeks, a plan that will be judged in part by whether it offers new, more politically risky proposals that could form the foundation for a bipartisan agreement between the two houses.

Senators braced for dozens of votes during a marathon session running late on Friday, with some predicting a final vote on the Democratic plan in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday. In early voting Friday morning, Democrats rejected the latest attempt to repeal Obama's landmark health care law by a strictly party-line vote.

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