- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
House breaks old taboos in cutting spree; Murtha’s project taken off dole
While he was alive, Rep. John P. Murtha was a prince of pork, directing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars back to his southwestern Pennsylvania district. But Wednesday, the House took the first step to turn off the spigot, voting overwhelmingly to defund the National Drug Intelligence Center that Murtha had the government build in his hometown.
And that was just the beginning.
In the first freewheeling spending debate the House has held in years, Democrats and Republicans teamed up to take on entrenched defense interests and to rewrite a GOP 2011 spending bill to cut about $800 million from NASA and from homeland security research and development, and send the savings to fund local police and firefighters.
The cuts thrilled budget hawks, who said the House was breaking decades-long taboos to go after defense spending, while Democrats crowed over adding money back to fund first responders, saying it went part of the way toward fixing the GOP’s bill.
“Throwing police and firefighters off the job isn’t going to solve the deficit,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “But the irresponsible Republican spending bill would still destroy 800,000 private- and public-sector jobs and fails to invest in the future.”
The 359-page spending bill is designed to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. Democrats failed to pass a budget or the dozen annual spending bills last year, leaving the government operating on a stopgap measure that expires March 4.
The bill that House Republican leaders proposed would cut about $60 billion from 2010 discretionary spending, with the cuts coming heavily from the domestic side of the ledger.
On Wednesday, lawmakers took a whack at defense spending as well, using a dramatic 233-198 vote to cut $450 million for a jet fighter engine that the Pentagon has tried to kill for years, but which Congress had consistently backed — until this week.
“The Pentagon has said repeatedly that they do not want it and do not need it, and the American taxpayers certainly cannot afford it,” said Rep. Tom Rooney, the Florida Republican who fought to remove the spending.
The program in question is an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Those who support the money say having two separate production lines, the primary one by Pratt & Whitney and an alternate by General Electric and Rolls-Royce, will foster competition, which will mean lower total costs and better quality in the long run. But the Pentagon said it is confident that having a single contractor will end up saving the government money.
The vote broke down largely along geographic lines, with all members from the Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana delegations voting to back the second engine, and the delegations from Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kansas all voting to stop the funds.
Less significant dollarwise, but no less important as a break with the past, was the vote on the drug intelligence center (NDIC) in Pennsylvania, which Murtha had the government build in the early 1990s.
In one instance in 2007, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who tried to cancel the funding, said Murtha confronted him and threatened to block any defense earmarks Mr. Rogers might request, “now and forever.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Federal deficit shrinks 20 percent in fiscal 2014
- Wind farms: Interior Department sacrifices eagle protection for alternative energy
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bipartisan House votes against 'patent trolls' who file lawsuits against innovators
- Bipartisan House votes to stop patent 'trolls'
Latest Blog Entries
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- N. Korean news agency: Kim Jong Un's uncle executed
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow