You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Appropriations chief sharpens spending knife to mollify base

- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2011

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday announced deeper budget cuts than earlier proposed — a move intended to stem criticisms that House Republicans would renege on a top campaign promise.

Chairman Harold Rogers promised to cut $100 billion from President Obama's fiscal year 2011 request. The cuts — about $58 billion, compared with last year's budget — would be included in a bill to keep the federal government running once the current funding authorityexpires March 4.

"My committee has been working diligently to go line-by-line in every agency budget to find and cut unnecessary spending to reduce our deficit and help our economy thrive," the Kentucky Republican said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Rogers' announcement came a day after he said he would cut about $74 billion from the president's budget plan, or $35 billion compared with last year's budget.

House Republicans campaigned in 2010 on a promise to cut $100 billion from Mr. Obama's request for domestic agencies — a pledge many conservative House Republicans pressed their party to stick to.

"Anything short of our pledge to cut $100 billion from [fiscal year 2011] will be getting off on the wrong foot," Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said last week.

Mr. Rogers has called for cuts among a broad scope of agencies, including law enforcement, transportation, energy, health and foreign-aid programs. His plan includes completely axing several federally subsidized — and popular — programs, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps and funding for high-speed rail transit.

"Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred," he said.

One potential spending cut that House Republicans haven't committed to is an alternate engine for the military's next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Mr. Obama, many Democrats and even the Pentagon say the program — slated to cost $450 million this year — should be canceled.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, on Thursday wouldn't say if the controversial engine program will be included in the House GOP's final list of proposed cuts, which could be released as soon as Friday.

But the speaker said House Republicans will continue to press for cuts beyond the Appropriations Committee's upcoming spending plan.

"I remind you that we've been in the majority now five weeks — we're going to have a long year," Mr. Boehner said. "You're going to see more spending cuts come out of this Congress than in any Congress in the history of this country."

Democratic leaders accused House Republicans of proposing indiscriminate cuts that could do more harm than good.

"We fool ourselves if we think that by cutting something we're reducing the deficit. In fact, we may be adding to the deficit if it cuts jobs," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. "The $100 billion [in proposed GOP cuts] would really cut to the heart of who we are as a country."

While the House Republican spending plan likely will pass the GOP-dominated chamber, it would face stiff opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the House plan was "headed in the wrong direction."

"We're eager to work with Republicans to cut spending and reduce our debt in a responsible way, [but] the House Republican proposals are not responsible," he said. "Republicans want to cut funding for programs that help us grow our economy and make our country more competitive."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, warned a shutdown of federal agencies is possible if Congress can't reach an agreement before the current funding authority expiresin three weeks.

"Some of these House Republicans won't be satisfied with anything less than a shutdown of government," Mr. Schumer said. "House Republicans, you were already playing with fire, and now you're dumping more gasoline on the flames. Come together and start negotiating."

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.