- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Wednesday proposed ending more than 60 government programs and cutting hundreds of others in a $35 billion down payment on their promise to rein in federal deficits.

Funding for AmeriCorps, family planning assistance and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be wiped out under the proposal, presented to the GOP rank and file at a closed-door meeting.

As outlined by Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican, who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, cuts would range widely across the face of government, including aid to education, food safety and inspection services, and high-speed rail, which President Obama wants to increase.

The legislation is expected to reach the House floor next week. While the political focus is on the cuts demanded by Republicans, the bill also is needed to allow the government to continue normal operations when its funding authority expires on March 4. Many Republicans, especially freshmen lawmakers elected with tea party support, promise to seek deeper cuts.

Mr. Rogers also called for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency — 18 percent from 2010 levels — as well as elimination of a program that helps local police departments hire new officers. An EPA program that gives localities money for clean-water projects is going to be hit especially hard.

The package of cuts totals $43 billion taken from domestic agency and foreign aid budgets when compared with levels enacted for 2010. Once increases for the Pentagon are accounted for, those savings are $35 billion. They are smaller than promised in last year’s campaign because the budget year is already almost five months under way.

Mr. Rogers warned that further cuts sought by conservatives could lead to furloughs of federal workers at the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency, or politically wrenching cuts to health research, special education grants to local school districts, or Pell Grants to disadvantaged college students.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, also warned against some of the reductions.

“We need to cut spending, but we need to do it by focusing on waste,” Mr. Schumer said. “This proposal would get rid of cops that keep our streets safe, food inspectors that keep our food safe, and cut home heating oil for seniors.”

Eliminating AmeriCorps, a signature initiative of former President Bill Clinton, would save $373 million. Ending police hiring grants would save $298 million.

The federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be eliminated, saving $531 million. The corporation funds a small portion of the budget for National Public Radio, which is deeply unpopular with conservatives. But an effort to cut the public broadcasting budget a few years back — also under GOP control of Congress — was rejected after strong objections from the public.

The day after Mr. Obama called for a six-year, $53 billion investment in high-speed rail, Republicans proposed eliminating the subsidies altogether.

Republicans also propose cutting Amtrak’s budget back to 2008 levels to save $224 million, or 14 percent. They tried deeper cuts a few years ago, but those were rejected on the floor.

“We have taken a wire brush to the budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people,” Mr. Rogers said in a statement. “Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit.”

Mr. Rogers only issued a partial roster of cuts. He didn’t outline cuts to heating and housing subsidies for the poor, Indian health care, road construction or transit subsidies. And there was no detail on the relatively small cuts to Congress’ own budget, which largely was spared.

Republicans account for their larger reduction amounts by pegging their recommended cuts to Mr. Obama’s requests. They claim $58 billion in savings through the end of the year, compared with Mr. Obama’s proposals for domestic agencies. That amount increases to $74 billion after defense cuts are folded in.

The list of cuts contains numerous winners and losers — and seeks to steer clear of political land mines. NASA would absorb a cut of less than 1 percent cut from current levels, and the National Park Service largely would be spared.

In fact, the FBI would receive a 4 percent increase over current levels, as would the U.S. Marshals Service. The health research budget would be frozen at 2010 levels ($31 billion). And while Republicans are advertising cuts to community development programs of $530 million from Mr. Obama’s budget, those cuts equal a freeze at current levels of almost $4 billion.

But renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs would be slashed by about half, while a weatherization program for homes, factories and office buildings would be terminated.

The Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food for low-income pregnant women, mothers and young children, would receive a $758 million cut, about 10 percent. But with money left over from last year, the impact should be modest.