House Passes Budget Deal

After a marathon debate, the House approved the balanced budget agreement by a vote of 333-39 shortly before dawn today.

House Republicans barely turned back the biggest threat to the agreement, an effort by Transportation Committee Chairman Bud Shuster, R-Pa., to add $12 billion to the $125 billion in highway spending contained in the deal. Shuster's amendment was defeated by a 216-214 vote.

GOP leaders said yesterday that many members were not clear on the offsets for the Shuster amendment, adding that Republicans would not be happy with the across-the-board cut of .0039 percent in discretionary spending and a similar reduction in tax cuts.

Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., took to the floor shortly before 11 p.m. to urge members to reject "conservative and liberal" alternatives to the budget compromise.

In a letter to House budget leaders, Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin Raines said the Shuster plan would be a "breach" of the deal.

The Senate, for its part, on Tuesday fought off three amendments to the budget resolution. In a 91-8 vote, the Senate defeated a plan by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., to eliminate the tax cuts and discretionary spending increases in the plan.

In a 61-39 vote, the Senate tabled a proposal by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to increase spending on children's programs by $15.72 billion.

In a 70-29 vote, the Senate also tabled a plan by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., to ensure that any revenue shortfalls be made up by cutting discretionary spending.

Republican leaders hope to avoid a House-Senate conference on the FY98 budget resolution by offering a leadership amendment on the Senate floor to settle the differences between two versions of the resolution, a Senate Republican aide said late Tuesday.

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