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US Senate Passes Budget, Setting Up Fight With Obama

  • VOA News

FILE - The U.S. Capitol building at night

FILE - The U.S. Capitol building at night

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that proposes deep cuts to the federal budget, setting up a protracted fight between congressional Republicans and Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama.

At an all-night session that lasted until early Friday, senators passed their version of a balanced budget plan that proposes $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Much of the savings would come from cutting health care. Funding for the military would increase.

The Senate 2016 budget plan is similar to one the House of Representatives approved earlier this week that would balance the budget in nine years. The two Republican-controlled bodies will work out differences between the proposals in two weeks when a congressional recess ends.

The Republican plans are likely to be opposed by President Obama, who in February put forward a nearly $4 trillion budget that would raise taxes and spend large amounts on improving U.S. infrastructure.

Obama's and the Republicans' plans are similar when it comes to defense spending.

Senate lawmakers also approved dozens of other non-binding and non-budget-related amendments during the marathon, 15-hour session. Many of the amendments considered during the session - referred to as a "Vote-a-rama" - are meant to focus attention on a particular cause or force individual lawmakers to take a position on controversial issues.

Before leaving for their two-week recess, the Senate also delayed action on a bill to restructure the way in which physicians are reimbursed under Medicare, a national social insurance plan.

Harry Reid not to seek re-election

The session came as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced his plans to retire after his current term ends.

FILE - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with other Democratic Party Senate members in the background, is seen on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

FILE - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with other Democratic Party Senate members in the background, is seen on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In a video message posted online Friday, Reid, who represents Nevada, said he will not seek re-election next year.

"The job of minority leader of the United States Senate is just as important as being the majority leader," Reid, 75, said in the video. "It gives you so much opportunity to do good things for this country, and that's what I am focused on."

Reid said his decision had nothing to do with a freak exercising accident in January that left him with serious injuries, including damage to his face and right eye. But he said the accident did give him time to think about the future of the Democratic Party.

"We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again," he said. "And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I can be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that's what I intend to do."

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