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US Senate Passes First Federal Budget in 4 Years

The United States Capitol Dome is seen before dawn in Washington, March 22, 2013.
The United States Capitol Dome is seen before dawn in Washington, March 22, 2013.
The White House has praised the U.S. Senate's budget plan that passed early Saturday. It was the first time the Senate has passed a budget in four years.

The White House issued a statement Saturday calling the budget plan "balanced." It says the plan cuts wasteful spending while eliminating tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

The Senate's slim 50-49 vote came just hours before dawn. Four Democratic Party Senators joined all the Republicans in the Senate in voting against the measure, but that was not enough to overcome passage in the Democratically-controlled body.

The resolution seeks to raise nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenue over the next 10 years by closing some tax breaks and cutting government spending.

Democrats in the Senate have been criticized for failing to approve a budget since 2009.

Passage of the measure sets up a political duel with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The House came up with its own budget plan on Thursday, cutting government spending without raising taxes.

The White House said Saturday the House budget plan would make deep cuts to education and manufacturing.

Neither plan has much of a chance of becoming law. But the Senate and House proposals set up starting points for debate that could eventually lead to passage of a budget bill that President Barack Obama could sign into law.

Republicans used their weekly Saturday address to criticize the Senate budget plan. Senator Mike Lee says the proposal raises taxes by $1.5 trillion without saving Social Security and Medicare - two popular social entitlement programs.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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