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Local politics

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Senate Democrats unveil budget plan

Reject GOP bid to stall funds for health care law

The stalemate over federal spending practices continued Wednesday as Senate Democrats spurned another Republican attempt to halt the health care law.

The Senate voted 52-45 along party lines to defeat the latest measure, an amendment to legislation for extending government appropriations past March 27.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats released their fiscal year 2014 budget plan, which shows they and House Republicans remain far apart on how to reduce the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt.

The Democrats’ proposal would cut spending by $975 billion over 10 years and raise the same amount in revenue by closing income-tax loopholes. The Republicans’ version, released Tuesday, would shave $4.6 trillion in spending, including $1.8 trillion with the elimination of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t believe either of these documents are going to be the final agreement. … The numbers are going to have to change on both sides,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Wednesday in a media conference call.

Donnelly voted against the GOP amendment to delay funding for the Affordable Care Act, while Sen. Dan Coats supported the measure.

“Obamacare burdens Hoosier families and businesses with higher costs and unaffordable taxes, strains state budgets and puts America deeper into debt,” Coats said in a written statement.

A day earlier, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said the House Republicans’ fiscal blueprint is a “responsible, balanced budget.” President Obama “has no interest in actually balancing the federal budget,” Stutzman said, and he noted the tax increases contained in the proposal by Senate Democrats.

“Campaigning for tax hikes does nothing to balance the budget or create jobs,” he said in a written statement.

But Donnelly contended that the GOP plan is vague and much the same proposal that the Senate has snubbed in recent years, when he was a member of the House.

Obama discussed budget proposals when he met Tuesday with Senate Democrats.

“It seems that he understands that we need to have give and take on both sides, and that’s what I believe as well,” Donnelly said.

Obama met Wednesday with House Republicans. At a news conference broadcast by C-SPAN, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd – who replaced Donnelly in the House – said she urged the president “to provide a balanced budget for the sake of people, not for the sake of rhetoric.”

bfrancisco@jg.net

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