Senate Passes Balanced Budget Outline

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WASHINGTON: The Senate followed the House's lead and overwhelmingly approved the balanced budget deal between President Clinton and GOP leaders by a 78 to 22 vote. The approval paves the way for the completion of a compromise version of the bill to be hashed out between the House and Senate after the Memorial Day recess. Lawmakers had hoped to finish the budget bill before the break, but were prevented from doing so when the House dissolved in turmoil over a separate measure and went home for the long weekend. The delay did nothing to discourage lawmakers, however, who expressed confidence that the few remaining loose ends would be tied up after Congress returns to work June 3. "I don't think it's of any significance," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici said. "For everybody who wanted a balanced budget, we got it. It's finished." Senate passage of the plan came after the White House and GOP leaders fought off a last minute proposal by Sen. Phil Gramm to kill the agreement because it would violate previously-enacted spending limits for next year by $9 billion. The measure was ultimately killed by a wide 66 to 33 margin. Once the budget deal is completed, it will lead to the first federal surplus since 1969.