After a grueling, all-night debate that ended close to 5 a.m., the Senate on Saturday adopted its first budget in four years, a $3.7 trillion blueprint for 2014.
The 50-49 vote sets up contentious — and potentially fruitless — negotiations with the Republican-dominated House in April.
The House plan ostensibly brings the government’s taxes and spending into balance by 2023 with cuts to domestic spending even below the automatic “sequestration” levels now roiling federal programs, and it orders significant changes to Medicare and the tax code.
The Senate plan, in contrast, includes $100 billion in upfront infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy and calls for special fast-track rules to overhaul the tax code and raise $975 billion over 10 years through legislation that could not be filibustered. Even with that tax increase and prescribed spending cuts, the Senate plan would leave the government with a $566 billion deficit in 10 years, and $5.2 trillion in additional debt over that time.
“The Senate early Saturday passed its first budget in four years by a vote of 50 to 49.
The close vote was a big victory for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who had to overcome large differences within their caucus to push the resolution through.
Centrist Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) were all non-committal up until the end.
Baucus, Begich, Hagan and Pryor joined the entire GOP caucus in voting against the budget resolution. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who was ill, missed the vote. His office said he would have been available to vote if needed.
All the Democratic senators who voted “no” are up for reelection in 2014 in states that voted for [Republican] Mitt Romney.