First Budget Round to Obama

By Dan Froomkin
12:50 PM ET, 04/ 3/2009

President Obama's budget plan sailed through both houses of Congress yesterday. But it failed to garner a single Republican vote, and Democratic grumblings threaten to make the next steps considerably more challenging.

Lori Montgomery writes in The Washington Post: "Congressional Democrats overwhelmingly embraced President Obama's ambitious and expensive agenda for the nation yesterday, endorsing a $3.5 trillion spending plan that sets the stage for the president to pursue his most far-reaching priorities.

"Voting along party lines, the House and Senate approved budget blueprints that would trim Obama's spending proposals for the fiscal year that begins in October and curtail his plans to cut taxes. The blueprints, however, would permit work to begin on the central goals of Obama's presidency: an expansion of health-care coverage for the uninsured, more money for college loans and a cap-and-trade system to reduce gases that contribute to global warming.

"The measures now move to a conference committee where negotiators must resolve differences between the two chambers, a prelude to the more difficult choices that will be required to implement Obama's initiatives. While Democrats back the president's vision for transforming huge sectors of the economy, they remain fiercely divided over the details."

Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times that the lack of Republican support was "a sign of deep partisan tensions likely to color Congressional efforts to enact major policy initiatives sought by President Obama....

"Democrats said the two budgets, which will have to be reconciled after a two-week Congressional recess, cleared the way for health care, energy and education overhauls pushed by the new president. The Democrats said the budgets reversed what they portrayed as the failed economic approach of the Bush administration and Republican-led Congresses....

"House Republicans, who offered budget alternatives featuring a domestic spending freeze and broad tax cuts, accused Democrats of encouraging runaway spending that would bloat the government, worsen the economy and pile government debt on future generations."

David Rogers writes in Politico that congressional leaders "first shaved back many of the bolder proposals in the president’s budget -- and thereby lessened his momentum going forward."

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