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German Parliament Passes 2004 Budget

As expected, the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, didn't approve the federal budget for 2004 and the supplementary budget for 2003 -- a first in the history of the modern German republic. The chamber, dominated by the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU), was highly critical of the governing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens plan's to borrow €29.3 billion ($37.3 billion), thereby increasing the German deficit. They claim the budget is unconstitutional, since the new debt is more than the estimated new expenditures, which total €24.6 billion. But, also as expected, the Bundestag, Germany's lower house, overruled the Bundesrat and passed the budget anyway, relying on a majority from the governing coalition. Bavaria's premier, Edmund Stoiber, the leader of the CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union, said the budget reflected the current government's mentality -- he said they should concentrate less on accumulating more debt and more on budget cuts and savings.