Senate rejects more stimulus funding
Still, while senators showed they were willing to pare down new spending, lawmakers have turned back efforts to enact full-fledged cuts.
Mr. Thune will provide a test of that on Thursday, when the Senate is scheduled to vote on his proposal to cut 5 percent of discretionary funding from all but the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. It would also cut money that was approved but has not yet been spent from last year’s $862 billion stimulus package.
Democrats, who for months had defeated every effort to undo parts of the stimulus, now appear conflicted on whether to go down that path.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said this week that tapping unspent stimulus money is an option. He said the point of the stimulus was to stabilize the economy and boost jobs, so moving some of the unspent money to programs that Democrats believe would have an immediate effect on preserving teachers’ jobs makes sense.
“One of the things that we’ve got to be careful about is choking off the economic recovery,” he said.
With spending requests piling up, though, Democrats‘ job is getting more complicated.
That bill, however, has become mired as key Democrats insist it also include non-war items such as money for states to keep state and local government workers.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates initially set a Memorial Day deadline for completing the bill, and now says it must pass by Independence Day or else the Defense Department will have to cut funds and stop projects.
“We begin to have to do stupid things if the supplemental isn’t passed by the Fourth of July recess,” he said.
He said money for the Navy and Marine Corps to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will begin to run out of money in July, and that will mean having to cut other programs to continue operations.
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