The Budget: A Look At The Spending Side (7/30/97)
Congress To Vote On Budget, Tax Bills (7/30/97)
Weighing In On The Budget Deal (7/30/97)
Clinton, GOP Leaders Hail Budget Pact (7/29/97)
Explaining The Budget (7/29/97)
How The Deal Affects You: A look at the agreement's tax breaks for families, capital gains and education. (7/29/97)
GOP, White House Say Budget A Done Deal (7/28/97)
In Focus: The Balanced Budget
House Endorses Budget Deal
Goal is to have tax and budget bills signed into law before August recess
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 30) -- On an overwhelming 346-85 vote, the House on Wednesday approved the first part of the budget deal, as Congress raced to endorse a hard-won agreement with the White House to cut taxes and erase persistent federal deficits. Final action by both houses of Congress is expected by Friday.
Leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue applauded the legislative package that aims to balance the federal budget by 2002, while enacting the first major tax cut since the 1980s. The House is expected to vote on the tax package late Wednesday night.
"We are not committing to limiting the power of government and enhancing the power of the individual," declared House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, who has participated in balanced budget negotiations with the White House for more than two years.
The lonely band of opponents consisted of 52 Democrats, 32 Republicans and one independent, Bernard Sanders of Vermont.
"We are talking about a flawed bill that the administration tried to make better," said Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat. "But a flawed bill is still a bad bill."
A Senate vote was expected Thursday, and some are predicting 80 to 90 senators will vote in favor. Congress goes into recess in early August for about a month, and lawmakers hope to get the final bills passed for President Bill Clinton's signature before leaving town.
Nothing is ever final in Washington, though, and lawmakers mounted last-ditch efforts to change the bills. Tobacco state lawmakers are upset with a 15-cents-a-pack hike in cigarette taxes (10 cents in 2000 and an additional five cents in 2002), and some conservatives are angry about added spending on social programs.
Some Democrats, most notably House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri, oppose what they consider regressive tax changes.
Something for all political persuasions
The twin packages provide something for almost all political stripes, including $35 billion in education tax credits, tax credits for people with children, lower estate and capital gains taxes, added health coverage for needy children, and deficit reduction.
What hasn't caused much argument are proposed changes to Medicare. The package aims to save some $115 billion over five years, mainly by squeezing payments to medical providers. Dropped from consideration were controversial measures passed by the Senate to raise Medicare premiums for upper-income recipients, and a hike in the age eligibility from 65 to 67.
It promises to be a gala week of chest thumping. Meanwhile, the question remains: will the agreement actually balance the budget by 2002?
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