WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress capped President Barack Obama's 100th day in office by advancing a $3.4 trillion federal budget for next year — a third of it borrowed — that prevents Republicans from blocking his proposed trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care over the next decade.
Wednesday's House and Senate votes to adopt the nonbinding budget blueprint were only a first step toward Obama's goal of providing health care coverage for all Americans. The budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 sets the parameters for subsequent tax and spending bills expected to boost clean energy programs and student aid and extend many of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts.
"It's a budget that reduces taxes, lowers the deficit and creates jobs," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "It honors the three pillars of the Obama initiatives: energy, health care and education."
Obama cheered passage of the plan, saying in a statement that it "builds on the steps we've taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity."
The Senate adopted the plan by a 53-43 vote just hours after a 233-193 House tally.
Newly-turned Democrat Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania voted against the measure as he did earlier this month when it initially passed the Senate. Three other Democrats also voted no: Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Seventeen House Democrats, mostly from GOP-leaning districts, voted against the budget.
Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the measure.