Congress and the White House worked out a few last-minute snags in a deal to cut the federal budget deficit by $500 billion over five years.
They expected to pass the compromise Saturday without strong support from Republicans in Congress.House and Senate leaders Thursday continued to trade offers on the details of the tax increases and spending cuts that will affect all Americans. They had reached central agreement that the wealthy should pay a larger share of taxes.
"I think the major elements have been resolved," said President Bush, who has been negotiating through aides.
The plan makes a $40 billion downpayment on a deficit reduction in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. The average American will feel higher taxes through increased levies on gasoline, alcohol, wine, beer and tobacco.
Bush felt confident enough of passage of the package to leave the White House late Thursday for California on a trip that also takes him to Hawaii and Oklahoma. His aides said he would go only if he was certain the budget had enough Republican support to pass Congress.
The Democrats, in turn, declared victory because upper-income earners will take more of the burden of taxes. "The highest share of taxes will be borne by those earning over $200,000 a year," said House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash.
With only 10 days to go before the congressional elections, the lawmakers said they were anxious to wrap up five months of haggling over the budget and go home to repair their damaged reputations with voters.
House Republican Leader Robert Michel of Illinois was mapping out a strategy Friday for gaining at least 50 to 60 votes from his party for the plan.
The Democratic majority in the House could pass the package with less than 50 Republican votes but a Democratic source said they might not want to.
White House chief of staff John Sununu made no predictions on the size of Republican support.
Sununu said Bush would withhold his endorsement until the accord was completed.
"There's a lot of mischief that can be done in the details and we don't want to commit to something and discover an accumulation of mischief that undermines the agreements that have been made," he told reporters after Thursday's Republican caucus.
Although most attention focused on a tax-the-rich debate, all Americans will see higher taxes, chiefly through an increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline.