Tea Party wins: $100 billion in cuts in House Republicans' spending bill

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) on Friday evening introduced a revised 2011 government spending bill that the GOP said will cut at least $100 billion in spending this fiscal year, bowing to demands by Tea Party-backed House freshmen.

The continuing resolution funding the government after March 4 cuts deeply across all areas of domestic spending and singles out many programs for complete elimination.

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In the CR $81 billion has been cut from non-security programs, and security-related programs have been reduced by $19 billion, compared to Obama’s 2011 budget request.

The legislation will increase funding for the Department of Defense by 2 percent over last year’s level.

“This evening, on behalf of House Republicans, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers introduced a Continuing Resolution that will reduce spending by at least $100 billion in the next 7 months – a historic effort to get our fiscal house in order and restore certainty to the economy,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement.

“At a time when unemployment is too high and economic growth is elusive in part because of the uncertainty created by our skyrocketing debt, this legislation will mark the largest spending cut in modern history and will help restore confidence so that people can get back to work. These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every other American has to do in their households and their businesses, and that’s to begin a path of living within our means,” he said.

The CR was immediately rejected by the lead appropriator in the Senate.

“It is clear from this proposal that House Republicans are committed to pursuing an ineffective approach to deficit reduction that attempts to balance the budget on the back of domestic discretionary investments, which constitute only a small percentage of overall federal spending. The priorities identified in this proposal for some of the largest cuts - environmental protection, healthcare, energy, science and law enforcement - are essential to the current and future well-being of our economy and communities across the country," Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said in a statement.

“I am disturbed that some Republicans have indicated a willingness to allow a government shutdown. No responsible elected official should even consider such an option," he added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also dismissed it.

“Although Democrats have repeatedly urged them to join us in responsibly cutting waste and excess, Republicans have taken a meat ax to the initiatives that invest in our economy and create jobs for the sake of appeasing their base," he said.

An earlier and milder leadership-backed version of the bill cut $32 billion from current levels of spending; the new bill was estimated to cut $58 billion.

Measured against the 2011 Obama budget request, which was never enacted, the earlier leadership bill cut $74 billion and the new bill cuts $100 billion.

“Everybody got hit,” Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson said.

“Obviously we don’t want to close the national parks…we tried to be selective,” he said.


House appropriators on Thursday announced that they were withdrawing their less drastic CR under pressure from freshmen.

It is unclear if the bill will satisfy freshmen and members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee.

RSC budget guru Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) said Friday the RSC was still mulling what amendments to offer when the bill comes out next week.

“I think it is important to keep the word” of the Pledge to America, he said.

Some freshmen and RSC members argue that under the GOP Pledge, a full $100 billion must come from non-security spending. The House Appropriations CR contains $19 billion in cuts from security spending.

The CR cuts transportation and housing by $15.5 billion, or 23 percent, compared to a 17 percent cut in the original CR.

From agriculture spending, it cuts $5.2 billion, or 22 percent below last year’s level, compared to 14 percent in the original leadership bill.

Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations are reduced $11.6 billion, or 18 percent, below last year’s level, including the elimination of the $298 million COPS hiring program. This compares to 16 percent in the original CR.

The Interior and Environmental portion of the CR cuts 14 percent, or $4.4 billion, below last year’s level, compared to an 8 percent cut in the original CR.

The Financial Services and General Government section of the CR contains a $3.8 billion, or 16 percent, reduction from fiscal year 2010 levels, compared to a 13 percent cut in the original bill.

The Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) section of the CR cuts $17.5 billion, or nearly 11 percent from last year’s level, compared to a 4 percent cut in the original CR. The CR eliminates funding for programs such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Americorps.

Energy and Water programs are cut $3.6 billion, or 11 percent, below last year’s level, compared to 10 percent in the original.

The State and Foreign Operations section of the CR cuts $3.8 billion, or 8 percent, below last year’s level, compared to a 4 percent cut in the original CR. To get there it cuts back contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations and banks but continues the fiscal year 2010 level of economic assistance to Egypt.

It cuts $2 billion from unobligated stimulus funding, a far smaller amount than Republicans had hoped for.

The CR contains many controversial deep cuts; among them are $747 million from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC).

It cuts $350 billion from border security fencing, and $783 from FEMA state and local programs.

It cuts $1 billion for community health centers and $1.1 billion from Head Start.

It especially whacks foreign assistance for the poor. Food for Peace looses $687 million. Global Health and Child Survival gets cut $784 million, development assistance is cut $746 million and international disaster assistance looses $415 million.

From transportation, high speed rail is cut by $5 billion.

The committee had raced to produce the bill Friday in order to leave enough time to hold a vote on the bill next week before the House recesses for a Presidents Day district work period next Friday.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Friday that there will be three days of debate next week, and an open rule will allow for lots of amendments.

Under a three-day waiting period the GOP instituted in January, the bill debate cannot begin until Tuesday at the earliest.

If the bill is not passed before Presidents Day recess, the House and Senate would have only one week left of work to negotiate out a spending bill before March 4.

If a new CR is not passed by March 4, the government will shut down. Congress can pass short-term extensions of the current CR, however.

The biggest cuts come to transportation and agriculture, with the biggest decreases compared to the leadership bill coming to environmental, agricultural, labor and transportation funding.

This story was updated at 8:40 p.m.