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House, Senate Approve Budget Resolution

Congress adopted a $2.9 trillion budget blueprint on largely party-line votes Thursday afternoon, setting up a showdown with President Bush on spending later this year.

The House adopted the budget on a 214-209 vote, followed by the Senate’s 52-40 approval.

The plan allows $23 billion in additional spending this year above Bush’s request and more than $200 billion extra over five years, prompting threats of vetoes of spending bills by the administration. Thirteen House Democrats voted against their party’s budget; Senate Democrats were joined in their “aye votes” by Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Democrats said the plan would restore the budget to surpluses within five years while allowing the extension of tax cuts for the middle class and new investments in education, health care, veterans’ benefits and energy research. But Republicans argued the plan would require the largest tax increase in history by allowing some tax cuts to expire after 2010, which they argued would throttle the economy.

Passing the budget allows Democrats to start moving forward with appropriations bills, with the House Appropriations Committee beginning subcommittee markups starting on Friday.

Democrats argued that passing the budget also showed that they could govern; Congress has failed to adopt budgets in three of the last five years.

But with Democrats holding narrow majorities in both chambers, they avoided tough choices on reining in the growth of entitlement programs, a point that the White House emphasized in its criticism of the budget resolution.

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