Senate Democrats close in on a budget

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. rushes with other lawmakers to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 22, 2013, to vote on amendments to the budget resolution. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. rushes with other lawmakers to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 22, 2013, to vote on amendments to the budget resolution. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite)

It would call for $1 trillion in tax increases over 10 years. Amendments still face votes.

Posted: March 24, 2013

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats neared approval of their first budget proposal in four years on Friday, calling for almost $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade while sheltering safety-net programs targeted by House Republicans.

The Democrats also would reverse automatic spending cuts that are beginning to strike both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

The nonbinding but politically symbolic measure caters to party stalwarts on the liberal edge of the spectrum just as the House GOP measure is crafted to appeal to more recent tea party arrivals.

Approval of the Senate version was expected to come long after dark - after dozens of votes on amendments, many of which were offered in hopes of inflicting political damage on Democratic senators up for reelection in GOP-leaning states such as Alaska and Louisiana.

About $1 trillion in new revenue would flow to the government over the coming decade - on top of more than $600 billion in taxes on upper-income earners approved in January - and would be coupled with a net $875 billion in spending cuts.

Those reductions would be generated by modest cuts to federal health care programs, domestic agencies and the Pentagon and reduced government borrowing costs. The budget proposes $100 billion in new spending for infrastructure projects and job training programs.

The president will reveal his own overdue tax-and-spending plan in two weeks, a plan that will be judged in part by whether it offers new, more politically risky proposals that could form the foundation for a bipartisan agreement between the two houses.

Senators braced for dozens of votes during a marathon session running late on Friday, with some predicting a final vote on the Democratic plan in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday.

In early voting Friday morning, Democrats rejected the latest attempt to repeal Obama's landmark health-care law by a strictly party-line vote.

The Senate has already taken several politically freighted votes, including a move by Democrats to force a vote on the Paul Ryan House budget, which was rejected by a 59-40 vote Thursday night, with five Republicans joining every Democratic senator in opposition.

Republicans countered with a move by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), putting Democrats on record in opposition to balancing the budget by the end of the decade. It failed on a near party-line vote.

Additional votes on Friday could feature forays into off-topics like supersized soft drinks, domestic drone strikes, handguns, and abortion - in addition to the more traditional subjects of taxes, spending, and debt.

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