U.S. Senate breaks stalemate over budget

15:43, March 10, 2011      

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The U.S. Senate on Wednesday broke the political stalemate over budget cuts by rejecting two competing proposals, making way to negotiations that would be able to avert a devastating government shutdown.

Senators voted largely along party lines. A Republican proposal passed by the House that would slash another 57 billion dollars from the 2011 budget was rejected by a 44 to 56 vote. No Democrat voted for it.

An alternative Democratic plan to cut 6.2 billion also failed to attract any Republican vote. The tally was 42 to 58.

Before the vote, negotiations on the budget were in a stalemate on Capitol Hill. But after the test votes forced senators to take public stances on the competing proposals, negotiation would regain traction.

After the votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wants to strike a deal that would fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, reiterating his opposition to passing stopgap bills.

The government was funded by stopgap bills since the beginning of the current fiscal year last October. The current stopgap funding measure expires on March 18. If no measure was taken or no new stopgap bill was approved, the federal government is faced with an ugly shutdown.

After the votes, the White House said in a statement that the votes demonstrated Democrats and Republicans "must come together to find common ground on a budget that cuts spending and puts us on a path to live within our means, but also ensures we continue to invest in our future."

The White House said President Barack Obama met during the day with Reid and other key Democrats, while Vice President Joe Biden, who is visiting Russia, talked with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Republican side.

"The president and vice president urged them to come together to find a solution that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year and reiterated their commitment to helping make this happen," said the White House.

Source: Xinhua

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