GOP moves forward with proposal to slash $32 billion in spending

The House Appropriations Committee moved forward with a GOP proposal to cut $32 billion in federal spending Tuesday in a vote that laid bare the ideological divide over the budget. 

In a 27 to 22 vote along partisan lines, the Appropriations panel approved reductions to 10 of 12 categories of federal spending for 2011.

The committee is expected to unveil Thursday the specific cuts that will be made in legislation to meet the levels the committee approved.

That continuing resolution funding the government after March 4 will come to the floor next week and is sure to face resistance in the Democratic Senate. Failure to agree on a CR could result in a government shutdown.

The committee debate featured a stark contrast between Democrats, who described the cuts as a “life and death matter” for vulnerable Americans, and conservative Republicans, who said the cuts don’t go far enough.

Committee ranking member Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wa.) argued that America has an infrastructure “crisis” and complained that transportation funding is getting hit the hardest in the spending plan. 

“Jamming on the fiscal brakes so quickly will have the opposite effect of what you intend: it will inhibit job growth by slowing down economic growth and increasing the deficit,” Dicks said.

“You can’t ‘cut and grow,’ colleagues,” he added, in reference to a mantra that has been pushed by the GOP leadership. 

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y) described the cuts as “gutting” overseas embassies, while Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said they put the food supply at risk.

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), on the other hand, said he would vote against the allocations since they are not deep enough. Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) said that the cuts were just the “opening kick off” in a long season of cutting that will continue through a Republican Study Committee floor amendment seeking $100 billion in cuts.

Contrary to the cutting trend, Defense spending will see a 2 percent increase and Homeland Security spending will remain the same. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged Congress to increase Pentagon funding in order to meet current needs.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to cut $58 billion from Defense spending but withdrew it. She argued that Defense spending must be cut if vulnerable Americans are to suffer from the cuts as well.

Under the allocations approved Tuesday:

• Agriculture spending will be cut 14 percent compared to 2010 spending levels.
• Commerce, Justice and Science will be cut 16 percent.
• Energy and Water will be cut 10 percent.
• Financial Services will be cut 13 percent.
• Interior and Environment will be cut 8 percent.
• Labor and Health and Human Services will be cut 4 percent.
• Legislative Branch spending will be cut 2 percent.
• State department spending will be cut 4 percent.
• Transportation and housing will be cut 17 percent.
• Military Construction will be cut 3 percent.

Tags Jeff Flake Tom Graves

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