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SENATE FLOUTS BUSH'S BUDGET

The Senate was poised to pass the first of 12 spending bills Thursday night and smash President Bush's budget for border control and other homeland security programs.

The $40.6-billion measure was expected to pass by an overwhelming vote, with the tally virtually certain to be high enough to overcome a promised Bush veto.

The already popular bill became more so with the addition of $3-billion above budget caps set by both Bush and his Democratic rivals to secure the U.S-Mexico border and seek out immigrants who have overstayed their visas.

The Senate bill also greatly exceeds Bush's request for homeland security grants to state and local governments for improving disaster planning and training and paying for new fire and rescue equipment.

Senate action came as Republicans and the White House stepped up attacks on Democrats for their handling of the must-pass appropriations work, warning that a stack of veto threats and a slow pace of work virtually guarantees a legislative mess in the fall.

"Here we are almost in August and we've only passed one" appropriations bill, griped Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "We're looking at a potential train wreck in September."

In fact, Senate Republicans brought only two spending bills to the floor all of last year when they controlled Congress. Their performance two years ago was considerably better, however.

The border security money was broken out of Bush's immigration bill, which failed last month.

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