Republican leaders in the House are calling for even deeper budgets cuts by putting forward a plan that cuts about $60 billion to hundreds of federal programs for the seven months remaining in the current fiscal year – putting spending at levels in effect in 2008.
The proposed spending reductions reflect an additional $26 billion than an initial draft, which was viewed as too timid by some conservatives.
Some of the agencies that would be affected by the proposed spending reductions include:
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the suggested cuts were unprecedented.
“Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude. The cuts in this CR will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation,” Rogers said in a statement on his website. “While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt.”
The new measure would reduce spending by $100 billion below President Obama’s request for the current fiscal year, a number the House GOP had promised to meet in the “Pledge to America,” their manifesto in the 2010 campaign. The actual cuts from current rates are less because the $100 billion promise assumes Obama budget increases that were never enacted.
The call for deeper cuts come mainly from newly-elected Republican representatives “fueled by tea party fervor [and] demanding a rapid response to the groundswell of public anger,” The Washington Post reports.
This fervor could threaten the efforts by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to avoid a confrontation with the White House that could cause a government shutdown, The Post says.
Democrats say the cuts could lead to tens of thousands of government layoffs, Reuters reports.
Republicans expect to unveil the finalized plan Friday afternoon.
If the plan passes in the House, it still faces a tough fight in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“We are willing to meet the Republicans in the middle on spending, but they keep lurching to the right,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on a conference call, according to the Reuters report. “This infighting is causing delays that will take negotiations right up to the deadline and risk a government shutdown.”
The government is currently funded on a continuing resolution at 2010 spending levels. This stopgap funding expires March 4.
Congress also faces the task of passing a budget for the 2012 fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. President Obama is scheduled to release his 2012 budget Monday. The Defense Department is also slated to released its budget Monday.
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