Late Thursday evening the House of Representatives passed the budget resolution for fiscal year 2010 by a vote of 233-196. All Republicans and 20 Democrats voted against the resolution. Four alternative resolutions, two from Republicans and two from Democrats, were defeated earlier Thursday.
House Budget Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., wants to conference with the Senate as soon as possible to kick off appropriations. He says staffers from both the House and Senate will confer during the spring recess.
"I haven't seen the final product from the Senate," Spratt said. "But from what I understand we are not that far apart, so hopefully we can write a resolution quickly."
In the Senate an amendment introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to lower the estate tax was approved by a vote of 51-48. The rate would be reduced from 45% to 35% next year and raise the exemption to $5 million from $3.5 million. That would be made permanent by the budget, however a later amendment from Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that passed 56-43, would allow a point of order against such a provision until tax relief had been offered to lower-income individuals.