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Huge deficit-cutting bill races through Republican House; bipartisan effort picks up support
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened government default.
The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and stood in contrast to stirrings at the White House and in the Senate on a renewed effort at bipartisanship to solve the looming debt crisis.
President Barack Obama and a startling number of Republican senators lauded a deficit-reduction plan put forward earlier in the day by a "Gang of Six" senators split evenly between the GOP and the Democrats. It includes $1 trillion in higher taxes, and the president said he hoped congressional leaders would "start talking turkey" on finding agreement as soon as Wednesday.
Wall Street cheered the news as well.
But House Republicans insisted on their own approach ' despite Obama's veto threat and widespread predictions the measure approved Tuesday night would die in the Senate.
"Our bloated and obese federal budget needs a healthy and balanced diet, one that trims the fat of overspending and grows the muscle of our nation's economy," said Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, one of the 87 first-term House Republicans determined to reduce the size of government.
Democrats said the measure, with its combination of cuts and spending limits, would inflict damage on millions who rely on Social Security, Medicare and other programs. "The Republicans are trying to repeal the second half of the 20th century," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan.