House rejects Bush's budget, approves more for education, social programs

April 18, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The House buried President Bush's new budget yesterday and adopted instead a $1.46 trillion Democratic plan that avoids tax increases while allocating more spending for education, housing, veterans' benefits and a variety of other social programs.

Mr. Bush's proposal -- which included a $25 billion reduction in Medicare outlays over five years and an $11 billion cut in capital gains taxes primarily for wealthy Americans -- was crushed by a vote of 335-89. Eighty-eight Republicans backed the president, but 75 members of his own party deserted him on the roll call.

The House-approved plan, which sailed through by a vote of 261-163, conforms to last year's budget summit agreement by adhering to ceilings on outlays for defense, international affairs and domestic programs. It was sent to the Senate, where a similar Democratic blueprint is pending in committee.

Because of the deficit-reduction pact, however, the Bush budget and the opposition's alternative were far more similar than they have been for years, with disputes over less than 1 percent of the overall total.

Under both plans, for example, defense spending would be capped at $295.3 billion, and foreign assistance would be limited to $18 billion.

Both held domestic spending, excluding benefit programs such as Medicare, to $211 billion. Democrats, however, switched $13 billion of Mr. Bush's total, primarily by reducing space and science outlays to increase funds for student loans, health care and other social programs.

In one party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled House decided 261-158 to raise education spending by $2.4 billion more over the next five years than the president proposed, underscoring the differences between the two approaches.

Although the figures in the budget resolution are not binding on the appropriations committees that make spending decisions, they do provide guidelines for the House and Senate in debating the money bills.

Overall, Democrats were complimentary about the president's budget.

"It's the most honest budget submitted by a president in the last 10 years," said Representative Leon E. Panetta, D-Calif., chairman of the House Budget Committee. "It has discarded smoke and mirrors, but he [Mr. Bush] failed fully to seize the opportunity to break with the past."

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