Congress OKs Budget Plan, Advances Health Reform

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2009 5:42 PM CDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during a news conference Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – President Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health care system got a big boost today as the Senate followed the lead of the House and approved a $3.4 trillion budget plan, the Washington Post reports. The approval sets the stage for lawmakers to hammer out legislation over the summer on health care and a host of other issues including early education, renewable energy, college loans, and veterans benefits.

The plan gives Democrats the authority to use the legislative tool known as reconciliation to push through legislation without the threat of GOP filibuster. The budget outlines passed without a single Republican vote: 233-193 in the House and 53-43 in the Senate. "This is very exciting," said the health reform director for Consumers Union. "Some of us have spent our entire careers trying to make sure we have a decent health care system, and I think we're on the precipice of being able to get that this time."