I don't get "The votes, 218 to 214 in the House and 51 to 49 in the Senate, set the two chambers on a collision course." In my view, "218 to 214" is the same as "51 to 49", both are not set on a collision course. But "218 to 214" and "49 to 51" are set on a collision course.

Am I on the right track?


WASHINGTON, March 17 - The House and Senate passed competing versions of a $2.57 trillion budget for 2006 on Thursday night. The two chambers provided tens of billions of dollars to extend President Bush's tax cuts over the next five years, but differed sharply over cuts to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.

The votes, 218 to 214 in the House and 51 to 49 in the Senate, set the two chambers on a collision course. The House budget included steep cuts in Medicaid and other so-called entitlement programs. But in the Senate, President Bush's plans to reduce the explosive growth in Medicaid ran into a roadblock when lawmakers voted 52 to 48 to strip the budget of Medicaid cuts and instead create a one-year commission to recommend changes in the program.
This is not well expressed but I think I have worked it out. The house voted 218 to 214 in favour of cutting the Medicaid budget. The senate voted 52 to 48 against cutting the Medicaid budget.

There fore they disagree with each other and are on a collision course!
If the vote is very close in the House, where they want to make cuts in the Medicaid budget, and the vote is very close in the Senate, where they don't want to make those cuts, then it doesn't seem to me that either branch is overwhelmingly in favor of one thing or the other. Therefore I can't see why the author believes this to be a "collision course". Nevertheless, this is how he wishes to characterize the difference between the two houses of the U.S. Congress on this issue.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Nona the brit explained it well. But I prefer what CalifJim analyzed. The author did have made a fuss.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?