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Published: Thursday, 4/30/2009

Democrats give OK to $3.4 trillion Obama plan


WASHINGTON - Democrats in Congress advanced a $3.4 trillion federal budget for next year - a third of it borrowed - that prevents Republicans from blocking his proposed trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care over the next decade.

Yesterday's House and Senate votes to adopt the nonbinding budget blueprint were only a first step toward President Obama's goal of providing health-care coverage for all Americans. The budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 sets the parameters for subsequent tax and spending bills expected to boost clean-energy programs and student aid and extend many of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts.

The budget also makes it plain that Democrats won't let a mountain of deficits and debt interfere with advancing Mr. Obama's ambitious, costly agenda.

It gives Democrats the option of moving Mr. Obama's health-care plan through Congress without the threat of a Republican filibuster, though Democrats promise to try to find bipartisan agreement.

The Senate voted 53-43, just hours after a 233-193 House tally.

Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted yes. Three Senate Democrats and 17 House Democrats, mostly from GOP-leaning districts, voted no.

Republicans assaulted the plan as just the latest example of a spending spree by Democrats.

"It spends money we don't have, piles unprecedented debt on our children and grandchildren, and raises taxes on families and small businesses, while taking away the middle-class tax cut the President promised during the campaign," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) said.

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