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WASHINGTON -- The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee approved U.S. Rep. Steve Womack's federal budget blueprint Thursday evening, forwarding it to the full House.

The 21-13 vote followed two days of debate.

Republicans first rejected a series of Democratic amendments that sought to limit cuts to social programs and increase spending on infrastructure and other projects.

Democrats said the measure, if enacted, would devastate poor and working-class Americans while protecting tax breaks that benefit wealthy Americans.

After the vote Womack, a Republican from Rogers who heads the committee, thanked his colleagues for their hard work.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the committee's ranking Democrat, disagreed with Womack on nearly all of the issues, but praised the way the Arkansan conducted the process.

"You've handled this session with great class and dignity and great comity," Yarmuth said.

All of the Republicans on the committee supported the budget plan, which Womack said would lead to a balanced budget in fiscal 2027 and 2028, slowing the growth of the national debt by $8.1 trillion over the next decade.

In order for that target to be reached, lawmakers would need to cut spending levels from those envisioned by current federal law. They would also need for the economy to grow at a rate of 2.6 percent over the next decade.

In addition, Congress would have to identify $5.4 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs, which include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

[DOCUMENT: Read the budget blueprint from the House Budget Committee]

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Budget blueprint from House Budget Committee

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If growth averages 1.8 percent, in line with the Congressional Budget Office's forecast, a balanced budget would not be achieved. A decade from now, the annual deficit would still be $238 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a group that advocates fiscal responsibility.

The resolution is "an important first step" but most of the cuts are recommendations, not requirements, the group noted.

Assuming the budget resolution is adopted, only $302 billion in reductions would be mandatory, they noted.

The U.S. national debt surpassed $21 trillion earlier this year and is projected to reach $33 trillion by 2028. The fiscal 2018 deficit is expected to hit $804 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Committee members spent much of Wednesday and most of Thursday debating and voting on more than two dozen amendments.

Democrats sought to boost or place restrictions on funding for student loans, climate change, worker education training programs and the U.S. census.

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., tried to amend the resolution so that it would mandate trillions of dollars' worth of cuts.

The language in the amendment, he said, would transform Womack's policy recommendations "from promise into action."

"With these instructions, [the budget] will balance in 10 years. Without them it won't," McClintock said.

Womack argued that McClintock's amendment, if approved, would derail efforts to lower spending.

"In order to make a down payment on our debt, the budget must reflect actually achievable policy assumptions based on what can be done in a practical sense by our committee and the authorizing committees," he said. "I believe a step in the right direction is better than no step at all and I fear the adoption of this amendment will disrupt our ability to accomplish the savings we have before us -- $302 billion over 10 years in their entirety."

McClintock's motion was defeated by a voice vote. He subsequently voted with his Republican colleagues to send the resolution to the House floor.

After the bill's passage, U.S. Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., said the Republican budget resolution won't ever be adopted by Congress.

Nonetheless, the exercise was valuable, she said.

"It did give the Republicans an opportunity to show how morally bankrupt their positions are and how bad it is for working families in our country," she said.

Metro on 06/22/2018

Print Headline: Womack budget plan advancing to vote in House

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