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Mr. Schatz, though, said the highway bill included projects such as flowers for the Ronald Reagan freeway in California, which he said aren’t essential spending.

Mr. DeLay said the budget this year was pared down and 100 programs or offices were eliminated in this year’s spending bills. “We have been doing that for 11 years,” he said. He said it’s an “ongoing process” that will be more complete after this year’s budget process, which calls for cuts to Medicaid and other entitlement programs.

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican, agreed that Republicans “have been more fiscally sound than the Democrats were in their decades in the House.” He acknowledged that “we’re still trying to improve,” and noted Mr. DeLay is leading the fight to reform the budget process.

“We’ve had a good start, but many of us want to see the government be more fiscally sound and conservative in the future,” Mr. McHenry said.