Congress passes $3.4 trillion budget blueprint

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The House and Senate Wednesday approved a $3.4 trillion federal budget that would allow Congress to pass healthcare reform legislation without Republican opposition.

As part of the bill, Congress gave the go-ahead for the budget reconciliation process, which would permit healthcare legislation to pass with 51 votes in the Senate instead of the usual 60. Democrats, meanwhile, are saying that they would prefer to find a bipartisan agreement.

The Senate adopted the plan by a 53-43 vote, while the House adopted the plan 233-193. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who said this week he has switched parties and is now a Democrat, voted against the measure. He also voted against it earlier this month. Congress passed the plan on the president's 100th day in office.