The House and Senate Thursday approved President Obama' ambitious and expensive budget blueprints and endorsed a $3.5 trillion spending plan that would trim Obama's spending proposals for the fiscal year that begins in October.

The House approved the budget by a vote of 233-196 with no Republican support. Hours later, the Senate approved its version 55-43, with all Republicans and two Democrats voting against it, Senators Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh.

Obama, traveling in Europe, issued a statement praising the votes as an important step toward rebuilding our struggling economy. Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over that chamber's vote.

That budget would permit work to begin on the central goals of Obama's presidency: an expansion of health-care coverage for the uninsured, more money for college loans and a trade system to reduce gases that contribute to global warming.

The biggest dispute between the two chambers is whether to use a powerful procedural shortcut that would allow Obama's health , education and energy initiatives to pass.

Other differences between the two chambers are comparatively minor. Both the House and Senate budget plans would authorize about $3.5 trillion in spending next year about $100 billion less than Obama requested. Much of that reduction would come from lawmakers' decision not to budget another $250 billion for the Treasury's $700 billion bailout of the nation's financial system. That move would not prevent Obama from requesting the funds.

Both chambers also trimmed Obama's request for government agencies with the Senate cutting $15 billion and the House cutting about $7 billion. But both budget plans would fully fund Obama's request for defense spending and authorize the administration to spend $130 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year.