House GOP unveils bill to avoid shutdown, lessen pain for defense programs from forced spending cuts
March 4th, 2013
06:01 PM ET
2 years 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. lmc11

    People neet to start asking why DHS has just ordered 2700 light armoured tanks!!! This is in addtion to 7,200 full auto assault rifles and 1.2 BILLION bullets since last year. DHS is claiming we will have to wait in longer lines because of the sequester yet they are arming themselves as heavily as the Armed Forces. Why would this be???? Why on earth would DHS need all of this. We know they are not protecting the borders and are in fact releasing illegals from prison. So really why? It is hard not to be a conspiracy theorist when this is happening right in front of us and NO ONE is even questioning it. The press should be asking about the new Homeland Army and not if Obama beat Tiger Woods!! Wake up people!!!!!

    March 4, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. RussC

    I'm 63 and never saw a president willing to do this to the USA just to get control of the House. Shame on Obama. He is the worst president in American history.

    Watch how the media covers his backside.

    March 4, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Namejanek

    I just wish that do nothing Senate would finally pass a budget. Dem in the Senate and Obama are breaking a law.

    March 4, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. travismatthew

    That's great. Now how about coming up with a plan that both sides can agree upon. Closing loop holes, carving out special interest, spending reduction...They say they want a grand bargain, they say they're able to do it and work with democrats to accomplish spending reduction, closing loop holes to bring in more revenue...When? It's great that we can take care of our veterans and our national defense, now how about our education programs, how about our children, how about balancing some of the domestic hardships. Republicans are pushing this bill because they know the Dems won't approve of just easing the pain for Defense and Vets without easing the pain for domestic cuts. The blame game will continue. We're in a very bad episode of "Groundhog Day".

    March 4, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Ind.

    According the the whining of the left this should be a good thing but we all know it won't be because republicans did it.

    March 4, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. James Russell

    Too late children. The grown ups will take care of it.

    March 4, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. opinion8it

    Nice... GOP giving a break to the Pentagon.... WHAT ABOUT US GOP???

    March 4, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. penguin

    Why not give every agency the ability to decide where the cuts are made. The Republican plan tells us what might be saved but fails to say where the extra defense cuts will come from. To save one part requires some other part to sustain even deeper cuts. The across the board cuts at least tells us what programs will sustain cuts- all of them!

    March 4, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Interesting how just when the forced spending cuts came to effect that the GOP brought out a bill out of nowhere. It's almost as if this was their plan all along.

    March 4, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    The bill sounds a lot like picking "winners and "losers." Thought the Republicans/Tea Partiers didn't want the Obama Administration to pick "winners and losers."

    March 4, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    "Non-controversal items" The GOP considers anything the Dems want controversal.

    March 4, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. David

    more money for military and wars? hello no!

    March 4, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The gop trash has to lose the house in the 2014 mid terms ,the gop cares nothing about the people ,just keeping their corp clients like hall Burton puting money in their pockets ,gop conservative gop garbage that needs to be dumped in 2014!!!!!

    March 4, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. wade

    Since it is for JOBS , defense of the country and our veterans Obama will for sure find some reason not to go with it. He will call it evil and call the people who wrote it every name in the book and then swear the people trying to save the country and the people who served it are the ones destroying the USA. Watch and see Obama will never ever do the right thing for America and the Liberal press helping Obama as always will bow and pray to their liberal GOD Obama as always. All you Fools that voted for Obama have hurt America and the Press that Protect and serve Obama are as bad as he is.

    March 4, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. olepi

    GOP gotta have that pork!

    March 4, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. ghostriter

    There's really no point in not allowing all the departments to have leeway at this point. The reason why the cuts were so bad is that no one had any wiggle room. If they open that up, the cuts become easier to manage.

    March 4, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. rob harris

    Why are we cutting the the budgets of just the people that need it most. If congress cannot have their salries cut, then at least the perks that come with their job , travel, ancillry staff, all the staff at the white house and the capitol buildings be cut as well so that congress also feels the cuts instead of the american public only. The polical parties are becoming ridiculous acting like children instead of responsible representatives of this country.

    March 4, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. Tom

    Recently here in North Carolina a pole was taken at Elon College. When asked about Congress the received a whopping 11% approval rating vs 84% disapproval rating with 5% undecided. Need anymore be said about the performance of the US Congress. They are a worthless in every sense of the word.

    March 4, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. On StreetWise

    GOP plan; protect the Pentagon... throw the elderly under the bus.

    March 4, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. James Klimaski

    The greatest amount of waste in the government rests in the Defense Department. Members of Congress are not going to let that get away. Even the Tea Party members have their face in that trough. Making the poor and middle clas bear the burden of these cuts is no surprise. There is no pork in those pockets.

    March 4, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. Namerukiddin'me

    Another bunch of GOP political bs !

    March 4, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. pete veslocki

    Republicans shine while Obama the grest subversive whines.

    March 4, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. nytw

    When are the RINOs and the Liberals going to get it through their head that we are broke and need budget cuts. The budget should be cut a minimum of 20% across the board. The FBI, who's main purpose seems to be murdering American citizens needs to be eliminated.

    March 4, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Steve Lyons

    After all these years a small cutback will NOT hut the country. We NEED an annual 10% reduction in the budget for the next 20 years if we hope to change this train wreck.

    March 4, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. ga.democrat

    Go to hell GOP. The only thing the GOP cares about are their rich defense contractors and corporations. Obama had the economy back on track but these selfish fools want to take a sledge hammer to it. Can't wait to vote in 2014.

    March 4, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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