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Budget Plan Falls Apart Amid GOP Feuding

April 07, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders failed Thursday to deliver a $2.8-trillion budget blueprint, sending lawmakers home for the Easter holiday and possibly into the fall election with deficits on the rise and no plan to contain them.

Opposition to the budget among Republican moderates and a power struggle between a faction of conservatives and the GOP-controlled Appropriations Committee forced party leaders to either pull the measure or suffer a humiliating defeat.

In the face of opposition to the budget plan from Democrats, they chose the former, but said they hoped to revive a revised plan when Congress returned from a two-week recess.

Efforts to produce a compromise with the Senate on a $70-billion package of tax cuts also faltered, and House leaders abandoned hopes to pass it before leaving town on vacation.

Democrats were pleased.

"Our Democratic unity was very eloquent," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). "It was a sign of strength, and Republicans had to back off."

Republican leaders had tried to mend the budget rifts, but rival factions dug in stubbornly Thursday, battling over domestic spending, procedures for passing disaster aid and proposals for reining in so-called earmarks -- funds set aside for pet projects.

Failure to pass a budget would embarrass the new House leadership, which is trying to show voters that it's cracking down on deficit spending.

The budget resolution is a nonbinding blueprint that establishes lawmakers' tax and spending priorities.

This year's budget plan, developed by the House Budget Committee, reflects election-year realities and drops President Bush's proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, crop subsidies and other politically sensitive programs.

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