GOP lawmakers split as House votes down $1.4B in spending cuts

The House on Tuesday evening rejected several proposals to slash spending in a series of votes that pitted younger Republicans against more senior GOP members who argued against further spending reductions.

The House voted on seven Republican amendments that would have cut $1.4 billion in additional spending from the 2013 appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, H.R. 5326. Members accepted just one of them — a proposal from Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to reduce funding for a climate website at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That amendment saved $542,000, and was approved 219-189.

But the rest of the amendments were defeated, and led to significant splits among Republicans, while most Democrats voted against them. Those votes left the bill at roughly $51 billion in spending in 2013, or about 3 percent below current spending levels.

ADVERTISEMENT
The House was expected to continue debating amendments to the bill after the Tuesday evening vote series. But the early votes on the first appropriations bill of the year showed that House GOP leaders have once again accurately gauged the extent to which members of their own party are willing to accept cuts.

Last year's appropriations bills also saw several first and second-term Republicans put forward more radical proposals to cut spending, which were turned away not just by Democrats, but by senior Republicans.

The most aggressive proposal came from Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), who submitted language that would have cut 3 percent of all salaries and overhead covered by the bill. That amounted to a cut of $847 million, but was rejected in a 137-270 vote.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) proposed a $278 million cut to the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, but this too was rejected, in a 121-287 vote. And a proposal from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to eliminate Commerce's Economic Development Administration, saving $219.5 million, failed 129-279.

In each of these three votes, at least 100 Republicans voted against language to cut spending. Other rejected GOP proposals to cut spending further came from:

• Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), to cut $18.2 billion in salaries and expenses covered by the bill. Rejected 174-233.

• Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Ariz.), to strike the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program, cutting $21 million. Rejected 147-255.

• Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), to reduce funding for the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Program to levels requested by the Obama administration, a $15 million cut. Rejected 168-239.

The House also took up a handful of other amendments in late Tuesday voting that would shift funds, but not cut them outright. One of these, from Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), was accepted in a narrow 209-199 vote. Grimm's language would restore funding for the Regional Information Sharing Activities program, which allows law enforcement agencies to share information, and is offset by cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another from Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) would move $22.4 million from Justice Department administrative expenses to the Byrne Memorial Justice Program. This was accepted in a 325-81 vote.

But the House killed two other Democratic amendments that sought to shift funding, from:

• Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), to add $9 million to an International Trade Administration fund for trade enforcement, offset with cuts to cross agency support for NASA. Rejected 141-261.

• Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), to restore $38 million in proposed funding cuts to the Economic Development Administration, offset by Census cuts. Rejected 190-218.

With these votes, the House appeared to be almost halfway through the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. Amendments voted on up to this point reflected amendments that would change language in the first 41 pages of the 101-page bill.