Senate passes first budget in four years

March 23, 2013 at 9:27 AM

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate, by the slimmest of margins, approved its first budget in four years early Saturday, party leaders said.

The 50-49 vote came about 5 a.m., with four Democrats joining the entire GOP caucus in voting "no," The Hill reported.

The Democratic dissenters -- Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas -- are all up for re-election next year in states for voted for Mitt Romney.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., missed the vote.

Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the budget resolution "puts economic growth and the middle class first."

The Senate plan relies on $975 billon in new tax revenues over the next 10 years. It cuts $975 billion from spending, including $275 billion from Medicare and Medicaid. Still, it fails to close the budget gap by $566 billion because it ends $1.22 trillion in automatic spending cuts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the resolution "a rehash of the extreme policies that continue to hobble the economy and crush the middle class."

He predicted it would not become law.

The House passed its budget resolution Thursday on a 221-207 party line vote.

The two bills now go to a joint House-Senate conference that will attempt to work out differences between them.

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