Members of Congress are reacting to the details of the budget agreement that averted a government shutdown released on Tuesday outline nearly $40 billion in spending cuts.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., called the chops to the federal budget historic, but political observers have noted there is still a chance the deal won’t be approved by Congress, citing House Republicans who say because of their affiliation with the Tea Party that they he can’t support the deal.
“My committee went line-by-line through agency budgets this weekend to negotiate and craft deep but responsible reductions in virtually all areas of government,” Rogers said in a statement. “Our bill targets wasteful and duplicative spending, makes strides to rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies, and will help bring our nation one step closer to eliminating our job-crushing level of debt.”
Media outlets, however, have pointed out the plan uses a “sleight of hand” trick by going after programs that President Barack Obama had slated for cuts anyway.
From CBS News:
Many of the cuts appear to have been cuts in name only, because they came from programs that had unspent funds.
For example, $1.7 billion left over from the 2010 census; $3.5 billion in unused children’s health insurance funds; $2.2 billion in subsidies for health insurance co-ops (that’s something the president’s new health care law is going to fund anyway); and $2.5 billion from highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation.
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks – pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.
Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as “budget savings.” The savings are awarded year after year.
Other highlights include cuts of $390 million for heating subsidies; $1.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency; and $1.5 billion in new funding for high speed rail construction.
The Pentagon, however, will receive $513 billion in federal funding that is an additional $5 billion from 2010.