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. Greg

    I don't know, but to me it just appears that they are all tripping over one another in a panic and struggling to keep things going with all these short term fixes.

    March 4, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. Norma Vessels

    Yes, it's great for the Defense programs, while leaving all other workers out in the cold. Yes, let's freeze Congress's
    pay raise, and the other federal workers that barely make enough to live on, too. After all, Congressmen and women don't need any more money .. it's not going to hurt them at all. Here's what I think of the Republican's new Bill ... it stinks.

    March 4, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. SugarKube

    Obama's sequestration kicks in and swift boat John Kerry give $250 million aid to Egypt. Has this administration gone completely crazy?

    March 4, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. Greg

    It's all pretty scary because I really don't see any reason to believe there's any real answer to our problems as I really think it would have been in all their best interest to have done the right things by now. Look at the heat they are all taking from the country over this stuff. They are changing public perception day by day. They are driving people closer and closer to rebellion and I think they know it. If there was really anything thye could do I think it would have been done by now. I think eventually there is a very catastrophic end to all this.

    March 4, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Vote Him Out

    Hey Pelosi and Carney, it might be more than interesting and curious if you would actually "read" it.

    March 4, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. SecrtSqurl

    The sequester was to get both parties to negotiate. How can one side think that it can change it now so that Republican's defense contracts are not effected. Both sides should just deal with what they created for themselves.

    March 4, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. Getoverit

    Don't worry, libs. Harry Reid will simply "file" it.

    March 4, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  8. allens

    how much would we save by eliminating congress? they are a waste of money and the people would love it to happen.

    March 4, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. jpmichigan

    At least the Republicans are doing something, the Democrats stick it to Americans, in other words face doom and gloom if they don't get their increase taxes so to spend more on wasted government projects. Democrats are worried about generating jobs, well for the pass 4 years they haven't done a great job of it.

    March 4, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Marcus

    Seems pretty sensible – we're talking a 2.4% cut out of the entire budget – do it right and it's easy. Do it the Obamageddon way and it's harsh and unthinking. There is so much duplication, waste and completely irrelevant govt programs and grants that it should be a no brainer to cut so little. Every working person just took a 2% cut when Obama got his tax increase... The govt could delay hiring, freeze wages, push out pet spending, remove some redundant agencies.... Let the people running the various departments call the priorities and we'll see very little pain from this relatively minor reduction of bloated govt spending that has increased 30% over the past 4 years.

    March 4, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Yanni

    Now It is time to protect their own

    March 4, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. Liz the First

    Easing the pain on the defense dpt, not the poor and middle class! 'nuff said? Obama's mistake was thinking these draconian cuts would be a deterrant and a motivation for the rethugs to actually participate in government for a change. they just took them as a gift!

    March 4, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  13. Reggie from LA

    Does it have ANY revenue-raising attributes? You see folks, it's fine for the rich to be rich. All of us would like to be rich, for the greater part. It's not that people are ultra wealthy. It's how they became that way. Some thru legacy, some through entrepreneurial spirit and some are just freaking crooks who've hoodwinked and hidden money in protective accounts. That's why we're broke. They have money from the sweat of workers and even "our" government funds. How a lot of this has occurred has been decades in the making (largely since Reagan) and has been very effective. Now, stupid US, are at each others political throats, providing entertainment for those who have siphoned up the goods. Let's please stop being stupid actors in the circus. Stop playing to the hands of crony capitalist oligarchs. HAVE THEM PAY THEIR TAXES. like YOU do.

    March 4, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. rocky5

    May god help us all

    March 4, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. RandyF

    Unfunded wars got us in this mess, shoveling more money at the military is just the same dark hole.

    March 4, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. geraldhintlian

    Sounds fine to me, let's do it!!!

    March 4, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Robin Jones

    What's happening? This bill has been out for several hours and Harry Reid and President Obama haven't declared it "dead on arrival" yet?

    March 4, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. labman57

    Hardly shocking that the House GOP proposes focusing budget sequestration on programs that impact the poor, the elderly, and students, especially when one recalls that last year's concerted, yet marginally successful efforts by the GOP to undermine a person's ability to vote specifically targeted ... the poor, the elderly, and students.

    March 4, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. Royal Flush

    They need to protect the business interests in the defense industry. Typical Republican response to any emergency.

    March 4, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  20. silentcount

    There are plenty of worthless government programs they can cut spending on, instead of the things we actually need. It was Obama's job to do that, but he thinks he can wait 4 years for the next president to do that, while blaming the ones with common sense. These problems would have already been taken care of if Romney was president. Shame on the gullible ones who voted for Obama simply because he's a democrat. History will show he was a bad president.

    March 4, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  21. eddhur

    there it is now Democrat's show that you can work together now GOP has come with a bill to keep every thing going so pass the thing and quite cry about everything

    March 4, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  22. had it

    the article mentions homeland security as an untouchable. Does evey county have a homeland security guy driving a $40000 truck with $10000 worth of radio antenna's comming out of it ,who's only real job is writing grants to get more money? because our county sure does.

    March 4, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  23. Belvarie Varnado

    Sounds good but you know the Democrats won't agree.

    March 4, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  24. Hillcrester

    The GOP is going to mess around with the continuing resolution as they have with past CRs and Debt Limit bills. I hope the Senate holds out for a "clean" CR.

    March 4, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. cj

    No federal raises for employees earning over 50k, pay cuts for federal employees earning over 75k, end all foreign aid until we have a REAL positive balance at the end of the year.

    March 4, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
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