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US House approves balanced budget with $20bn military hike

 The House of Representatives approved a US budget Wednesday that shaves $5.5 trillion in spending over a decade, repeals the Obamacare health law and eliminates the federal deficit in nine years without raising taxes.



Washington: The House of Representatives approved a US budget Wednesday that shaves $5.5 trillion in spending over a decade, repeals the Obamacare health law and eliminates the federal deficit in nine years without raising taxes.

The Republican blueprint for fiscal year 2016 is seen as a compromise between the party`s fiscal conservatives, who want to slash the debt by virtually any means possible, and defense hawks calling for increased military spending amid rising extremism and unrest worldwide.

The House debated several budget proposals Wednesday, including a few Democratic alternatives and one favored by deficit hawks, but they were voted down.

The main Republican budget, which prevailed 228 to 199 with all Democrats voting no, would bring the federal deficit from 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 to zero by 2024.

Aside from cutting health programs such as Medicaid and children`s insurance programs, and abolishing Obamacare, the budget would trim $1.1 trillion from other "mandatory programs" such as food stamps and capping Pell Grants for college students. 

The nearly $3.8 trillion budget for 2016 includes an extra $20 billion in military funding demanded by national security hawks, and with no offset requirements.

Hard-core fiscal conservatives are known to balk at cooperating with mainstream Republicans on major legislation.

But many remained on board with this budget, largely because passing one will allow the chambers to enter negotiations to bring the two versions into line.

Though Congress could send a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to President Barack Obama`s desk, it would likely earn his veto.

The Senate is expected to pass its own version of the budget this week, before Congress goes on recess for two weeks.

The House version essentially transforms Medicare, the federally mandated health insurance program for the elderly, into a voucher-like system, something Obama and other Democrats have consistently opposed.

It would also overhaul the tax code -- a provision that the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen, argued merely provides "more tax breaks to the folks at the very top end of the income scale."

But House Budget Committee chairman Tom Price, who shepherded the measure to the finish line, declared it "a budget that credibly addresses our fiscal and economic challenges."

Passing a budget resolution is crucial for Republicans, who pledged to ease Washington gridlock now that they control both chambers of Congress.

Obama unveiled his 2016 budget in February, a $4 trillion wishlist that would blow through mandatory spending caps, raise taxes, and spend nearly $500 billion on improving infrastructure.

While Republicans slammed Obama`s budget as one that would never balance, it could be seen as a first draft of the Democrats` election manifesto for the upcoming presidential campaign.

From Zee News

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