Senate passes $2.8 trillion election-year budget
Budget passed with only one Democratic vote in support; calls for the opening of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday narrowly passed a $2.8 trillion election-year budget that would continue a string of huge deficits while also rejecting some of President George W. Bush's domestic spending priorities.

By a vote of 51-49, the Senate approved the fiscal 2007 budget that is nonbinding, but provides guidelines for spending bills Congress will try to pass this summer.

The budget passed with Vice President Dick Cheney, who also serves as president of the Senate, sitting in the Senate chamber ready to cast a tie-breaking vote if needed.

The House of Representatives has not yet written its version of a fiscal 2007 budget.

The Republican budget, which won the support of only one Senate Democrat, projects a $359 billion deficit in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, down slightly from the $371 billion estimated for this year.

The budget also calls for the opening of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, generating an estimated $6 billion in leasing fees and bonus bids paid by energy companies to drill in the refuge. Pro-development lawmakers have been pushing the initiative for years and it was unclear whether environmentalists will be able to block the plan this year.


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