House GOP unveils bill to avoid shutdown, lessen pain for defense programs from forced spending cuts
March 4th, 2013
06:01 PM ET
10 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. Body Electric 1001

    Now we get the ball rolling thanks guys!

    March 4, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  2. g

    they have been crying for spending cuts since bush left office.

    March 4, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. David

    Yet nothing to protect the poor, elderly and children – I guess if you can't write a check the GOP will pee on you.

    March 4, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  4. rad666

    Posted that money would make it to the agencies that Congress wants funded.

    To he// with any laws, they are above the law.

    March 4, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. radgast

    The whole congress should be fired if not locked up. They drag on the little they do then pick petty little arguments out of the two faced spinning mouths while pointing fingers at everyone but themselves as they give a smug smirk yet they can barely get anything done and certainly not on time.

    March 4, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. Skinmansd

    What are your priorities? I think it's time this Government got serious and prioritized the use of my HARD EARN MONEY.


    1. Live within our means. NO MORE DEBT PLEASE. Gov spending should be no more than the Gov takes in taxes. We can't keep spending money we do not have. Prioritize.
    2. National Defense. Pay our soldiers, sailors, air force, marines, national guard, and border patrol. Take care of our veterans. Provide the worlds best military with the equipment they need. Secure our borders.
    3. Infrastructure; roads, bridges, airports, ports., stable electrical grid.
    4. Free Trade. Keep the lines of commerce and trade open. Americans can compete with anyone. Eliminate tariffs.
    5. Public education with parental control of the money. Support parent CIVIL RIGHTS to send their children to the school of THEIR CHOICE.

    Please feel free to add to the list, but as for me I only want the basics from my government. The rest I'll take care of myself with reliance on the creator (AKA in God we Trust).

    March 4, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. us_1776

    GOP just blinked.


    March 4, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. Melissa

    Nothing the GOp proposes would ever help with anything. They are liars and con artists.

    March 4, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  9. cd

    I miss the old GOP that had common sense:(
    But those days are gone and if this new GOP cant see that a balanced approach is the only fair approach then keep things (as bad as they are) where they are as far as the spending cuts go.
    Hopefully though this will also cause the replacement of the current Republicans with new ones who have common sense and who will vote for whats good for everyone rather than only a small % of the population

    March 4, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  10. David

    No No No. Not unless it is paid for. Turn around is fair play.

    March 4, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  11. Julie

    To heck with the Pentagon, US policing agencies and the Republicans. All they ever want to do is fund parts of the government that deal in aggression so that they can start more useless wars like the one in Iraq. the VA is already so full of dead wood that the whole thing needs to be razed and redone – right – with things like accountability in place.
    If they're serious about spending cuts, then let's see them deal with reality instead of their fantasies. They can start by axing the Congressional health care plan – since they want to impede the access of ordinary Americans to health care by cutting reimbursements and increasing co-pays – let them start by buying their own health care.
    And while they're at it, they can send their own kids into war and then have them rely on the VA for all their rehab and medical needs.

    March 5, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  12. victor

    History shows that American Government is an intrusive leach. Perhaps if American Government played nice the DOD would not swallow so much of the American People's GDP. The reality that is unfolding is that the Military Industrial Complex is in charge.

    March 5, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  13. Zach

    When I think Republican, I think 400 billion dollars on a plane.. :/

    March 5, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. Scott

    Republicans and Democrats don't appear to be very serious about doing anything worthwhile. If shifting spending around is going to make sense, then Congress should have some hearings on how to shift it around. The devil is in the details. The lack of details just reflects the lack of intelligence among these partisans who are in power. Republicans will get the blame if they are dumb enough to shut the government down again like they did when Clinton was in office.

    March 5, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  15. Jack33

    Another worthless republican bill.

    March 5, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  16. AK_steve

    The GOP clearly cares more about bombs than people.

    March 5, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  17. Jeb

    The tea bagging GOP will keep creating these crises until they're voted out of office.

    March 5, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  18. billy

    Politicians do your jobs!

    March 5, 2013 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  19. 60minuteman

    No news here. Just republicans up to their same old tired tricks.....

    March 5, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  20. Roger

    I'm getting tired of Republicans constantly threatening to shut down the government. That's something that only an enemy would do, holding a loaded gun to America's head.

    March 5, 2013 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  21. J.V.Hodgson

    As predicted the republican house changes the sequester by selective options to reduce the impact on the DOD and Pentagon but leaves the across the board arbitrary cuts on spending.
    Talk about being partisan no compromise etc etc.
    That said personally I am not surprised.
    Me I want to see a budget ala the White House Plan as per the White house. gov site produced on Saturday after the meeting with House and Senate leaders last Friday.
    That plan is Leadership personified the Republican respnse is pure generic ideology none of which has a significant effect ( other than negative) on both the budget deficit and debt. All the republican generics of spending cuts only destroy jobs and and economic growth.... only the ryan budget said how and that got a big thumbs down. That is Austerity on steroids and would make us a Greece!!

    March 5, 2013 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  22. J

    But GOP is soooo bad at least they r trying

    March 5, 2013 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  23. dave

    the democrats should not support this bill and the president should veto the bill if it gets to his desk. these cuts were what the republicans wanted and now they should have to live with them the way they are. they don't get to make special deals for their pet programs only while the rest of the cuts are across the board. they could have come up with this kind of plan before the cuts took place. democrats should do what republicans have done starting after the election in 2008 by not working with the republicans one little bit. its time to make the republicans all 1 term people! what goes around needs to come around! let the democrats put the 2014 election on the table and see if the republicans will do the same! we will as democrats run on what the republicans have done to fix problems against what democrats have done and see who wins that game.

    March 5, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  24. criticalthinker

    "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."

    Of course the media NEVER mentions that the House Republicans have attached these "posion pill" amendments to the bills that they send to the Senate over and over again, when they mention the Senate not voting on House bills!

    March 5, 2013 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  25. Bob Ramos

    One way to avoid contraversies is for one side to consult with the other side before drafting the bill like this one.

    March 5, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
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