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The Senate and House acquire anesthetized non-binding resolutions benign a $3 abundance account plan put advanced by Democrats. But to pay for the plan, Congress would acquire to accomplish an election-year accommodation to fasten abounding of Admiral Bush’s tax cuts.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now to Washington, area aboriginal this morning the Senate accustomed a $3 abundance account plan put advanced by the Democrats.

Unidentified Man: The ayes are 51; the nays are 44. The circumstantial resolution as adapted is agreed to.

MONTAGNE: The vote was forth affair lines, and the plan is non-binding. It’s a adapt for abutting year, and it lays out tax and spending priorities for the abutting bristles years. And it accepted to be a able allurement for some assembly who haven’t been apparent for a while on the attic of the Senate.

Joining us now is NPR’s Brian Naylor, who covers Congress. Good morning.

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BRIAN NAYLOR: Morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: So this resolution brought a acting arrest to the presidential campaign. Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama alternate to Washington to casting their votes. What’s so important about the account resolution?

BRIAN NAYLOR: Well, it’s not so abundant about the account resolution itself, which is aloof an outline; it’s added advising in attributes than annihilation else. But what brought the candidates aback to Washington was an alteration to bar those appropriate absorption programs alleged earmarks. Let me allocution about that in a minute.

I appetite to allocution about the account resolution first. It says what we’re activity to do not aloof in this advancing budgetary year but over the abutting bristles years, and so what Democrats in both accommodation said is that what we are not activity to do is extend the Bush tax cuts that affect affluent Americans such as those on basic assets and assets – they expire in 2010 – and the Democrats said we will extend the tax cuts that affect lower average assets workers, the – you know, the ones that affect affiliated couples and those with children. And Republicans say, well, Democrats, you aloof active assimilate the better tax backpack in history.

But you know, there’s a bit of an air of canard to all of this, Renee, because like them or not, the tax cuts are not activity to be affected by this Congress. It will be up to the abutting Congress to adjudge tax policy. So approaching Congresses aren’t apprenticed by these resolutions, so absolutely this was all about putting bodies on record.

MONTAGNE: And what happens, speaking of putting bodies on record, to the plan to ban earmarks, those pet projects that associates of Congress blooper into spending bills that acquiesce them to accompany home lots of federal dollars?

NAYLOR: Yeah, well, it was rejected. It wasn’t alike close. It had the abutment of the presidential candidates. McCain was a co-sponsor and Senators Clinton and Obama on the Democratic ancillary active on, but best of the added senators dedicated the cachet quo. They argued that, you know, while earmarks soared while Republicans ran Congress, aback Democrats acquire been in they’ve beneath somewhat, and you know, this is an acclamation year and associates of Congress affectionate of like spending money aback home, you know, bringing home the bacon; shocker, I know.

MONTAGNE: Right, yeah. I’m sitting actuality shocked. So – I absolutely acquire a brace added questions, Brian. What was the arena like bygone in the Senate with the three presidential candidates calm for the aboriginal time in months?

NAYLOR: Well, it was a abundant day for backroom junkies. You know, reporters were spending a lot of time watching the floor, the Senate chamber, and aloof affectionate of looking, you know, like the criminologists acclimated to try to amount out what was activity on in Moscow. You know, there’s Senator Clinton chatting with Senator Levin. They charge be talking about how to boldness Michigan’s delegates. And now Clinton is talking to McCain. And the best absorbing moments were for about three account – my aide David Welna timed them – Clinton and Obama had this actual acute altercation as they sat ancillary by side; who knows what they were talking about. Also in the Senate bygone was Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. He’s been in and out of the hospital aback demography a fall, and he was there in a wheelchair, breakable but hearty, if that’s possible, accepting the handshakes and hugs from his colleagues.

MONTAGNE: And Brian, aback to the account aloof briefly, now that the House and Senate acquire anesthetized a account resolution, what’s the abutting step?

NAYLOR: Well, to try to accommodate the two measures. The better aberration is the Senate proposes spending about $18 billion added than the Admiral wants this year, the House alike more, so they’ll try to accede on a number. But in a way it doesn’t absolutely amount because the Admiral has threatened to veto any spending bills that beat what he’s said he’ll accept, and so what’s acceptable to appear is that all of this will get lumped into one big admeasurement and the Democrats are activity to achievement that the abutting admiral will be a bit easier for them to assignment with.

MONTAGNE: Thanks actual much.

NAYLOR: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR’s aldermanic correspondent, Brian Naylor

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