House GOP unveils bill to avoid shutdown, lessen pain for defense programs from forced spending cuts
March 4th, 2013
06:01 PM ET
1 year ago

House GOP unveils bill to avoid shutdown, lessen pain for defense programs from forced spending cuts

Washington (CNN) - House Republicans unveiled a government spending bill on Monday that keeps federal agencies funded through the end of September and attempts to remove the specter of a government shutdown.

The GOP bill doesn't replace the forced spending cuts, but lessens the pain for the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

These departments, which Republicans traditionally protect in budget fights, would not get extra money or escape the reductions included in so-called "sequester," but under the proposal drafted by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, they could shift money around to prioritize specific programs.

For example, the House "continuing resolution" or "CR" cuts roughly $10 billion from procurement and other areas to beef up the Defense Department's "operations and maintenance" account to ensure funding of military readiness and training programs.

In addition to including provisions for defense programs, the bill protects some other agencies from some of the across-the-board budget cuts that took effect on Friday.

It keeps FBI and border security staffing at current levels. And in response to the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September, the Republican measure increases funding for embassy security by $2 billion. It also includes increased money for federal prisons and weather satellite launches.

Federal agencies will run out of money on March 27 and the measure introduced Monday keeps funding for most federal programs at last year's spending levels that were established in the 2011 debt deal, known as the Budget Control Act.

But because it factors in reductions from the forced spending cuts, the actual level of federal spending will drop below a trillion, to $982 billion.

"The legislation will avoid a government shutdown on March 27, prioritize DoD and Veterans programs, and allow the Pentagon some leeway to do its best with the funding it has," Rogers said in a written statement.

The measure could face resistance by Senate Democrats.

Aides in both parties said they expect Democrats will try to amend the House bill to soften the impact of the spending cuts on some domestic programs.

While Democrats wouldn't say which programs their party would include, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, spelled out her priorities in a CNN interview on Friday.

"We need to have programs in there that meet compelling human need: housing, education, health care. But we also have to look at transportation. We want to look at those items that help generate jobs, like transportation, and solve America's infrastructure problems," she said.

One top Republican aide cautioned that if Democrats move beyond non-controversial items – such as funding for the Homeland Security Department – they could risk disrupting swift passage of the government funding bill.

Democrats in the House also expressed concerns.

Rep Nita Lowey, D-New York, the top Democrat on the House spending panel, said she supported the military spending plans, but she was disappointed the bill "would lock most of the federal government into outdated plans and spending levels."

Lowey argued that non-defense agencies will be hurt by the bill and urged Senate Democrats to work on a spending bill that protects those programs.

"It has an adverse effect on federal efforts to improve schools, health care, and homeland security; protect the environment; and create jobs and grow the economy. I am hopeful the Senate will consider and pass a 2013 funding package that better reflects the needs and priorities of the American people," Lowey said in a written statement.

Before the legislation was released on Monday, chief White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say whether the administration would support the House GOP bill, saying the White House wanted to "see something that is practical and nonpolitical, and consistent with the levels established in the Budget Control Act that both parties agreed to overwhelmingly."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also wouldn't say if House Democrats would support the bill when asked about it on Friday, but said it "will be curious to me if at that level the Republicans can produce the votes to pass it. But certainly we don't want to have a shutdown of government."

It's also unclear whether House GOP conservatives would go along with the proposal.

During recent votes on stopgap spending measures, many Republicans have pushed for greater spending cuts or wanted to add restrictions on how funding could be used for government programs.

Kansas Republican Rep Tim Huelskamp is again pushing to add language to the bill that would prevent federal agencies from using any of their money to implement the new health care law.

But GOP leaders know that including such a provision would be a non-starter for congressional Democrats and the White House and would only increase talks of a government shutdown.

The new spending bill also extends the pay freeze in effect for federal employees, as well as Members of Congress. The Obama administration has urged that federal workers receive a small salary increase.

The House is expected to begin debate on the spending bill on Wednesday and vote on it on Thursday.


Filed under: Budget • House Republicans
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. alford orman

    when does the DC SNOWJOB stop and those elected deadbeats finally get off their over paid butts and gddt to work FOR us?!!!

    March 5, 2013 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  2. MAC

    I have been through pay freezes to kkep everyone employed and I have friends who worked for companies who took pay cuts to keep anyone form being layed off. Just because the government is full of union workers why should the taxpayers have to foot their pay raise?

    March 5, 2013 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  3. Pedro's

    Solve this problem completely otherwise America will loose her global dominance!

    March 5, 2013 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  4. aCriticalEye

    1) I absolutely HATE the GOP/Tea Nets
    2) Stop paying members of congress
    3) Stop sending money over seas to countries that hate us.
    4) Bring our military home, end Bush's wars
    5) Stop tax breaks for the Oil industry, Big agriculture, and Pharmaceutical companies.

    March 5, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  5. RomneyWho

    Tell the GOP to stick it where the sun don't shine! :(

    March 5, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  6. Shark

    When this passes, it means that the Republicans passed their budget and the Democrats lost their budget fight. This was pretty obvious even back when the Sequester passed. Who could have foreseen the party of "NO" saying "No" yet again? Only anyone with a brain! The Democrats in Washington only pretend to support the poor and middle class. They are just as rich and privileged as the Republicans. There is no one in Washington that represents the people.

    March 5, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  7. Steve

    What does the bill do for federal workers facing a 20% work reduction? It is the elephant in the room.

    March 5, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  8. Nick

    Okay, so Republicans are trying to give departments the flexibility to manage the cuts, and we expect Democrats to try to change the bill so domestic programs don't suffer cuts."...housing, education, health care. But we also have to look at transportation. " So once again we see the tax-and-spend efforts of Democrats negating any effort to get our house in order, but of course trying to blame conservatives for that. Guess we'll see if Obama really has the stones to do what he said – veto any bill that attempts to reduce the impact of the sequester, and by doing so position us for a government shutdown. Personal opinion – he doesn't have the stones.

    March 5, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  9. Marie MD

    I sinicerely hope that the people in Ohio's bo ner district find somebody else to elect.
    The weeper on February 20 is talking about what the sequestration will do to the country, the jobs lost and on Sunday (didn't watch the drunken fool but have seen clips) he is telling Gregory that he doesn't know what harm it will cause.
    What part of furloughs doesn't he understand? Has liquor really messed up his brain that much?
    Of course, nobody in congress is losing money and they hardly work as the rest of us have to do so that won't be that much diferent for them.

    March 5, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  10. Rosa

    If they are going to let defense off they should let the other programs off too. I prefer the sequester to this plan. At least across the board cuts is fair.

    March 5, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. myself

    Typical. The Republicans will not compromise. Education needs help – it needs funding. Education cannot possibly tackle the challenges ahead while underfunded. The Republicans have to stop being the anti-women party of the rich and start looking out for the betterment of the nation. It is disgraceful that rather than work on the budget bill that they had 16 months to do – they just repeatedly attacked obamacare and vacationed. They didn't do their job and there is no accountability. Anyone who votes for a republican in 2014 is obviously amongst our dumbest Americans or atleast oblivious to what has been going on.

    March 5, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  12. bob

    The only thing the House GOP bill does is shift were the cuts come from. Instead of cuts to the military, they shift the full brunt of the cuts to social programs making it much worse on middle class families and the poor. Republicans will do anything in protecting the rich from closing of tax loopholes and eliminating deductions that only the wealthy are able to take. Republicans would rather see 98 percent of the American people suffer, than to ask the wealthiest to pay 1 cent more in taxes. It's time that the American people put the Republican Party out of business by voting them all out of office.

    March 5, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  13. hih

    Same old distractions from the real issues

    March 5, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  14. maximusvad

    If I was late coming up with a plan at work that forced part of my organization to shut down I would be fired. What standard do these Congressmen live by ? Are they royalty that the people they rule over are subject to their whim ?

    March 5, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
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