House Republicans are ramping up their push to slash government spending by reviving a program that lets Americans vote online for which federal programs to cut.
While in the minority last year, the “YouCut” program mostly was advisory. House Republicans tried to offer the cuts as amendments to bills but were shot down procedurally by the Democratic majority.
But now that Republicans control of the chamber, the program has more teeth, as the “winning” government bureaucracy will get the chance for an up-or-down vote on the House floor.
“We as Republicans remain committed to employ the latest technology to engage the social media utility so that more and more Americans can be involved in the legislative process,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, during a Wednesday news conference to announce “Phase II” of the YouCut program.
Any effort to kill the programs likely would die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. House Republicans, however, say they are fulfilling a campaign promise to continue pressure on the upper chamber and the Obama administration to control government spending.
“We were going to make sure that this town starts to look at ways of saving, not spending,” Mr. Cantor said.
Mr. Cantor has tapped the Republican freshmen class to administer the program, a deference to their tea party-infused enthusiasm and the movement that helped propel the GOP to take control of the House after the 2010 elections.
“Every American out there has seen some form, some shape of government waste,” said Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, president of House Republican freshmen. “All of those little bits of waste have added up to the tremendous deficit that we have and a tremendous national debt.”
Each week the House is in session the public can go to www.majorityleader.gov/youcut and select one of three government programs to cut. The proposal with the most votes will be introduced as a bill, with the public able to track its progress on the website.
The website also allows people to submit suggestions for other programs to cut.
The YouCut program began last year as part of a largely symbolic push to force the then Democrat-held House to cut spending. Republican leaders vowed in their 2010 Pledge to America that, if they gained control of the chamber in 2011, they would hold weekly votes on specific spending cuts.
Mr. Cantor’s office said House Republicans have kept their promise of holding weekly spending-cut votes. The only exception was the week of Jan. 9, when legislative matters were put on hold by the shooting of Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, in her home district.
“And I think all of us can agree, we’re operating in an environment now where it has become the rule of the day to talk about cutting trillions [of dollars], not billions,” Mr. Cantor said.
Also Wednesday, House Republicans took another broad swipe at shrinking the size of government by proposing $30 billion in cuts from the day-to-day budgets of Cabinet agencies. The cuts would be in addition to the $38 billion in savings enacted in an agreement Congress reached with the White House for the 2011 budget.
If the House approves the proposed cuts, they likely would be met with significant opposition in the Senate.