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Democrats Push $1.51-Trillion Budget Plan Through House

March 12, 1994|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led House on Friday approved a $1.51-trillion budget for fiscal year 1995 that embraces most of President Clinton's plan. It would help schools and the homeless, while trimming defense appropriations and scores of domestic programs.

By a 223-175 roll call that included a unanimous "no" vote by Republicans, lawmakers accepted a spending plan that advocates claim will drive next year's federal budget deficit down to $175.3 billion, the least amount of red ink in six years.

The Senate Budget Committee begins work on the plan next week.

Democrats said the measure's shift of funds from low- to high-priority programs would keep the economy moving in the right direction.

The economy is on a path, said House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), "that's brought more new hope, more family investments and more consumer confidence than we've seen in a long, long time."

Just before final passage, lawmakers rejected a Republican alternative calling for a broad tax cut in the form of a new $500 credit for most children.

"We want to put families first," said Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.). "Putting families first means first and foremost keeping more of what they earn. It means recognizing that the people who do the most important work in this country are not congressmen, they're mothers and fathers raising kids."

Democrats countered that the GOP's proposed tax break would go to families making up to $200,000 a year, but not to millions earning less than $16,000 annually, who pay no income taxes.

The spending plan covers the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Although it sets broad limits for federal spending and taxation, decisions about specific cuts and increases in programs are often ignored when lawmakers write annual spending bills later in the year.

Nonetheless, the budget proposes increases above last year's levels for programs dealing with transportation, education, health, aid to the poor and anti-crime measures. There would be less for programs connected with defense, foreign aid, science and space, the environment, agriculture and veterans' services.

Clinton and lawmakers did the hardest work of reducing the deficit last year when they approved his five-year package of spending cuts and tax increases. The measure approved Friday proposes only reductions that last year's plan required. It has no new tax increases and no new restraints on Medicare or the other benefit programs that are the fastest growing portion of the budget.

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