Bush cheers bipartisan accord on budget, taxes
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush hailed a congressional conference committee's agreement on a budget framework Wednesday, saying the measure included "reasonable levels of spending" and put the public interest before partisanship.
Congressional and White House negotiators agreed Wednesday morning to allow approximately a 5 percent increase in discretionary spending for the next year. That works out to about $667 billion. On Tuesday they agreed on a tax cut of $1.35 trillion over 11 years, including $100 billion this year.
Bush met Wednesday afternoon with congressional leaders and a handful of Senate Democrats, whose support probably will be necessary to get the package through the upper chamber.
Bush hailed the Democrats, saying they "realized it was time to come together to put a good budget together on behalf of the American people."
"We're right there on spending. We've got a few things to work out, but we're there," House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois said after the meeting.
The 5 percent increase in spending from last year's $635 billion exceeds Bush's desire to limit increases to 4 percent, but it is well below the 8 percent increase in spending passed by the Senate.
"It's going to hold," the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, said of the 5 percent ceiling. Bush could enforce the limit in a variety of ways, up to and including presidential vetoes of spending bills.
During a brief Rose Garden news conference Tuesday, Bush said the budget agreement on the size of the tax cut represented a "great day" for American taxpayers.
"Today, Republicans and Democrats have agreed to help Americans send their children to college, pay off their mortgages a little faster, or cope with rising energy costs," Bush said.
"In short, once we funded our nation's priorities, we've agreed to let the American people spend their own money on their own priorities."
The compromise must be approved by both chambers. The House could vote on the measure as early as Thursday.
CNN's Major Garrett, Ted Barrett, Dana Bash and Randy Lilleston contributed to this article.
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The White House
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