WASHINGTON — Republicans muscled a balanced-budget plan through the Senate early Friday, positioning Congress for months of battling President Barack Obama over the GOP's goals of slicing spending and dismantling his health care law.
Working into Friday's pre-dawn hours, senators approved the blueprint by a near party-line 52-46 vote, endorsing a measure that closely follows one the House passed Wednesday. Both budgets embody a conservative vision of shrinking projected federal deficits by more than $5 trillion over the coming decade, mostly by cutting health care and other benefit programs and without raising taxes.
The Senate was beginning a spring recess after approving the measure, leaving Congress' two GOP-run chambers to negotiate a compromise budget in mid-April. The legislation is a non-binding blueprint that does not require Obama's signature but lays the groundwork for future bills that seem destined for veto fights with the president.
"Republicans have shown that the Senate is under new management and delivering on the change and responsible government the American people expect," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Democrats viewed the document differently, saying it relied on gimmickry and touted the wrong priorities.
"The budget we passed today is irresponsible and fails to effectively invest in our future," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.