Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate began debate today on a House-Senate compromise on the federal budget which passed the U.S. House today in a vote of 221-207.
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., favors the budget plan saying it provided for reasonable tax cuts, a limited increase in government spending and maximum debt reduction.
The proposal includes a bipartisan tax cut of $1.35 trillion over the next 11 years.
"This tax cut will be significant to all Wyomingites who pay taxes. Tax payers will be able to use more of their own money for their kids' education, pay off their credit cards, invest or direct toward other priorities, rather than Washington deciding for them," said Enzi.
Tax relief of $100 billion will be distributed this year to help stimulate the economy.
Enzi's priority of debt reduction is also accounted for in this budget bill. It reduces the maximum amount of public debt that can be reduced without paying penalties. Under this budget the debt is projected to decrease to $818 billion in 2011. That's down from the $2.4 trillion in debt today.
Enzi said the budget also maintains a balance every year, without using the Social Security surplus for other spending. It protects Social Security and the Medicare trust funds.
This budget resolution provides for a 4.98 percent increase in spending from fiscal 2001 to 2002. It is close to President Bush's original proposal of 4 percent.
The budget resolution includes the President's 11.5 percent increase in federal education spending for reading education, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), teacher training and Pell Grants.
It includes an additional $14.5 billion in defense spending over last year, including the President's $5.7 billion initiative to increase military pay, housing and retiree health care.
Especially noteworthy is that the budget conference report includes a $300 billion reserve fund for reforming Medicare and creating a prescription drug benefit. The National Institutes of Health, charged with finding cures for diseases, would receive the largest increase ever, a $2.8 billion increase.
In the area of agriculture the budget resolution provides for advanced emergency funds of $5.5 billion this year and $7.35 billion in 2002, as well as $66.2 billion (for 2003-11) in reserve for reauthorization of the Federal Agricultural Improvement Act.
Veterans would also benefit from this budget with increases in funding by $7.1 billion over the next 10 years.
The budget conference report preserves more than $500 billion in non-Social Security and Medicare surpluses for contingencies through the next decade.
"Already the Democratic leader has labeled this budget conference report as an 'outrage'. I on the other hand, believe the much needed return of overpayments to taxpayers, increases in education and other key areas of funding, all the while protecting Social Security and Medicare, to be very satisfying," Enzi said. "I commend President Bush for his leadership. I will work hard now to assure budget consistency through the appropriations process."
The budget conference report is a spending guide that shows priority areas of spending. It authorizes how much can be spent in broad areas but what is actually spent will be determined later in the year in the appropriations process.
The Senate is expected to vote on the budget conference report tomorrow.