October 28, 1995
Web posted at: 1:30 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Candy Crowley
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It took some doing, but after 9 months of work, three days of debate and a record-breaking day of wall-to-wall roll call votes, they did it. Just past midnight, the Senate passed, by a 52-47 vote, the GOP budget bill that Republicans say will balance the budget by 2002, salvage the Medicare program, return power to the states, and hand the middle class a tax cut.
The uproar from both sides of this heated debate got louder after that final vote was cast. Republicans boasted, Democrats sulked.
"(This) is going to mean a lot of things to a lot of people," said Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole.
Outnumbered, outflanked and just plain left out, Democrats could do little other than rail on the Senate floor. "This budget is mean and extreme. It rewards the rich and ravages the rest," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
The Democrats commiserated with their commander in chief. "Every Democrat here in the Senate, at some point, will be voting against this piece of legislation," Daschle said.
"Well, tell them not to worry about it, I am going to veto it anyway," President Clinton said.
But before the president can use his veto, Republicans will have to agree on a single bill to send him. The House, for instance, takes $24 billion more out of the welfare pot than the Senate. In the House version, the $500-per-child tax credit would go to families with incomes up to $200,000. The Senate cap is about half that.
Both houses want to scale back Medicare spending by $270 billion, upping premiums to $88 in seven years. But the Senate would also double the deductible.
There are a number of different details, but everything heads in the same direction and there is nothing, apparently, to derail this locomotive. "I don't think there are any gigantic issues," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "The real challenge for us is, frankly, that we get a majority coming out of conference and then wait to see what the president does."
Party unity has been impressive, but it will get tougher along the way. Balky Republican moderates in the Senate have already made enough noise to restore some of the funding taken from Medicaid, Medicare and student loan programs and reinstate minimum federal standards for nursing home care.
The accommodation to moderates, made primarily by Senate leader Dole, did not go unnoticed by his presidential rival, who hovers nearby on the Senate floor. "I think it is clear that not everyone is equally committed to the Contract With America," said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.
The signal is clear: There is a line in the Senate, up to which the revolution must march in order to satisfy the right, but beyond which it cannot go.
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