US Republicans pass $5.1 trillion 2016 budget

US Republicans pass $5.1 trillion 2016 budget

WASHINGTON - The Republican-led US Congress passed a 2016 budget Tuesday, a largely symbolic policy document which if fully enacted would balance federal spending and slash $5 trillion (S$6.7 trillion) in social, education and health programs over the next decade.

The $3.871 trillion blueprint for the year beginning October 1, 2015, is not dramatically lower than the $4 trillion wish list put forward by President Barack Obama in February.

But it forms the start of a theoretical ten-year programme that would lead to a total elimination of the US public deficit by 2024, without raising taxes -- and beefs up Pentagon spending.

The Senate approved the Republican budget by a final vote of 51 to 48, with all Democrats voting against.

It passed the House of Representatives last month, also with united Democratic opposition, and despite deep divisions over military spending and other issues that threatened to split Republicans.

But the party's leaders shepherded the measure across the finish line, a rarity in Washington for a budget resolution and a victory for Republicans, who are under pressure to show that they can govern successfully in the 2016 presidential election cycle.

"No budget will ever be perfect, but this is a budget that sensibly addresses the concerns of many different members," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

"It reflects honest compromise from many different members with many different priorities."

But it did expose divisions between Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted against the budget, while Marco Rubio and potential White House candidate Lindsey Graham supported it.

White House has other plans

Obama's proposed budget would blow through mandatory spending caps, raise taxes, and spend nearly $500 billion on improving infrastructure.

The resolution has no power of law. But it is used as a guide to define the amounts appropriated to each federal agency.

That spending battle looms later this year, as lawmakers will haggle over appropriations bills that must be signed into law by the president by October 1 or else government risks a shutdown.

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