House passage of an $11 billion deficit-cutting bill shifts the spotlight to the Senate, where lawmakers are preparing to work through the weekend and next week's recess on the politically prickly measure.
On a 333-91 vote, the House approved the legislation Thursday after nearly two weeks of clamorous debate that saw the leaders of the majority Democrats take a series of embarrassing tumbles.Chief among them was the adoption of a capital gains reduction coveted by President Bush, and rejection of a Democratic plan to raise taxes on the wealthy while restoring some Individual Retirement Account benefits.
"My gosh, how many more wins can we have in a one-week or two-week period of time?" House Republican Leader Robert Michel of Illinois asked reporters.
On final passage, 187 Democrats and 146 Republicans voted for approval while 63 Democrats and 28 Republicans were opposed.
Senate leaders hoped to finish their own version of the bill by Sunday night.
The measure is the keystone of congressional efforts to reduce the projected deficit for fiscal 1990, which began Sunday, to no more than $110 billion. Current projections for this year's shortfall are about $116 billion, not counting the deficit-reduction bill.
The measure has been criticized for containing phony savings, such as not counting next year's anticipated Postal Service losses of nearly $2 billion for budget purposes.
If the legislation isn't enacted by Oct. 16, the Gramm-Rudman balanced budget law will trigger automatic spending cuts on defense and many domestic programs, averaging about 5 percent of their budgets.