US House, Senate approve 2010 budget outline (Lead)

April 3rd, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 3 (DPA) US lawmakers Thursday approved a $3.5-trillion budget outline for 2010 that closely mirrors President Barack Obama’s priorities for the country.
The vote in the House of Representatives was 233-196, largely along party lines, and came after weeks of polarising debate that exposed deep differences between majority Democrats and opposition Republicans over how to resuscitate the US economy.

The Senate voted 55 to 43 on a slightly different version of the 2010 budget proposal, which will require lawmakers from both chambers to forge a compromise in the coming weeks.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said that the “responsible” budget “will start cleaning up the mistakes of the past and make critical investments in our future”.

The budget outline, which is non-binding and serves as a guide for lawmakers, includes middle-class tax cuts and spending on education, energy, health care and the financial sector that Obama has said is key to the long-term health of the US economy.

“The Senates budget reflects the fundamental priorities proposed by President Obama and recognises that we cannot recover unless we make health care and education better and more affordable and reduce our reliance on oil,” Reid said.

“Staying true to these priorities will help turn around the economy for the many Americans who are underwater right now. But we won’t settle for simply getting back to sea level - we will to prosper once again,” he added.

The White House issued a statement calling the House vote “another step toward rebuilding our struggling economy”.

In the statement, President Barack Obama, who spent Thursday at the G20 summit in London, was quoted as saying: “By making hard choices and challenging the old ways of doing business, we will cut in half the budget deficit we inherited, within four years.”

Republicans charged that Obama’s plans raise the US deficit to dangerous levels and have countered with their own version, pledging tax cuts across the board, incentives for business and a spending freeze over the next five years in all areas except defence.

John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, slammed the Democratic budget as a “roadmap to disaster”.

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