Senate panel approves GOP budget that slashes spending

Stefani Reynolds
The Senate Budget Committee on Thursday approved a GOP-backed budget resolution that would allow for draconian spending cuts by reducing both defense and nondefense spending for 2020.
The resolution advanced in an 11-8 vote along party lines.
“This budget represents an important first step toward addressing our country’s fiscal challenges and provides a path for us to begin working together to achieve real deficit reduction,” said committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). “I hope that this budget will mark the beginning of a serious conversation on issues that Congress has been content to ignore for too long.”
{mosads}Budget resolutions do not carry the force of law, and in recent years they have been seen largely as political messaging documents. But the measure represents a marker in spending negotiations and serves as a Senate GOP counterpoint to President Trump’s budget proposal.
Trump asked Congress to boost defense spending to $750 billion, mostly by adding billions of dollars to an off-book fund that does not count toward a statutory budget cap. His request also would allow nondefense spending to dramatically fall in accordance with budget caps.
The Senate’s budget sticks to the legal caps for defense — falling from $716 billion to $643 billion, including off-book funds — and nondefense, which would drop from $640 billion to to $542 billion. The overall reductions would amount to $126 billion.
The spending blueprint also would decrease spending on Medicaid, children’s health insurance and Affordable Care Act subsidies by $281 billion, and on Medicare by $77 billion.
“The truth is that this is a disastrous budget for the middle class and working families of this country,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the panel’s ranking member.
The budget included an amendment that would extend the 2017 GOP tax cuts, as well as an amendment from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
The Scott amendment follows an announcement from the Justice Department that it would seek to upend the entirety of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance companies to provide health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. The move roiled congressional Republicans, who are concerned that voters will punish them at the ballot box for going after the popular provisions.
Democrats were able to attach a handful of amendments, including ones that would monitor climate-related threats to national security, reduce prescription drug prices and make low-income rental housing more affordable.
On the other side of the Capitol, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said Democrats were inching closer to a deal on their own budget resolution.
That resolution would increase defense spending by a smaller amount than Trump requested, but ensure nondefense spending increases by a larger number.
Democrats have struggled to unite their caucus around the resolution. If they reach a deal, they expect to mark up their budget next week.
Regardless of whether the budget resolutions progress in each chamber, Democrats and Republicans will continue negotiations over a deal to raise spending caps for 2020 and 2021, which will serve as the ultimate arbiter of how much Congress appropriates.
Battles still loom, however, particularly over Trump’s $8.6 billion request to fund his border wall. A previous standoff over wall funding led to a 35-day partial government shutdown this year, the longest in U.S. history.
Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump John Yarmuth Mike Enzi

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