orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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March 20, 2013

Senate vote: OK $85 billion cuts, avert shutdown

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Nor did the White House resist a bipartisan plan to prevent any cut in tuition assistance programs for members of military.

The final vote was 73-26, with 51 Democrats, 20 Republicans and two independents in favor and 25 Republicans and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana opposed.

Political considerations were on ample display in both houses as lawmakers labored over measures relating to spending priorities, both for this year and a decade into the future.

Rep. Mark Mulvaney, R-S.C., said he had wanted the House to vote on Obama's own budget, but he noted the president hadn't yet released one. "It's with great regret ... that I'm not able to offer" a presidential budget for a vote, he said. He added he had wanted to vote on a placeholder — "34 pages full of question marks" — but House rules prevented it.

Minority Democrats advanced a plan that calls for $1 trillion in higher taxes, $500 billion in spending cuts over a decade and a $200 billion economic stimulus package. Republicans voted it down, 253-165.

They are expected to approve their own very different blueprint on Thursday.

It calls for $4.6 trillion in spending cuts over a decade and no tax increases, a combination that projects to a balanced budget in 10 years' time. That spending plan would indeed be simply a blueprint, lacking any actual control over federal spending.

The issues were grittier in the Senate, where lawmakers grappled with the immediate impact of across-the-board cuts on individual programs.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a deficit hawk, said he wanted to reopen the White House tours, shut down since earlier in the month. He said his proposal would take about $8 million from the National Heritage Partnership Program and apply it toward "opening up the tours at the White House, opening up Yellowstone National Park and the rest of the national parks."

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