(AFP) – Mar 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Senate on Friday passed a three trillion dollar budget, after a marathon 15-hour debate stretched into the early hours.
The Democratic-controlled chamber voted 51 to 44 in favor of the 2009 spending plan, after the House of Representatives on Thursday passed its own version of the mammoth bill.
The key votes saw Democratic presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain make a rare return foray to Washington to cast votes.
"In this time of economic uncertainty, this fiscally responsible budget points our economy in the right direction once again by cutting taxes for the middle class and creating good-paying jobs here in America," said Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.
"Since President Bush took office, it has been harder each day for middle-class families to make ends meet. This budget will help, and will give more working Americans a real opportunity to succeed in the future."
Bush's Republican allies however accused the Democrats of hiking domestic spending on government programs, and of wasting taxpayers' money.
"Congress must be good stewards of taxpayers' dollars and we should continue to fight for responsible spending levels," said Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
The Democratic blueprint would balance the budget by 2009, and is opposed by Bush as it would phase out many of the tax cuts he has introduced, though would preserve some middle class benefits.
It also includes spending on some domestic programs like veterans benefits and energy technology, which the president has tried to cut.
As political jockeying took place over the budget, the Senate on Thursday voted down an attempt by Republican Senator Jim DeMint to impose a one-year moratorium on earmarks -- spending for pet projects inserted by senators into the budget.
The House and Senate budgets now have to be reconciled before they are put to a final vote later this year.
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