On January 19, the House Committee on Rules took another step toward Republican plans to reduce discretionary spending when it held a hearing on H.R. 38, which would reduce FY11 non-defense discretionary spending to FY08 levels.
The resolution, which the committee approved by a voice vote,
neither defines “non-defense discretionary spending” nor provides a
figure for FY08 levels. Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Jim
McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD) spoke against the
resolution; they said the committee should not vote to approve it
without considering the actual amount.
By voting on a resolution without a figure, Mr. Van Hollen said committee members would surrender their accountability by leaving the determination to a single individual, Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). Representative David Drier (R-CA) replied that House Republicans await a figure from the Congressional Budget Office but want to move forward with the resolution now.
The resolution includes an amendment by Representative Timothy
Scott (R-SC) allowing funding to go below FY08 levels. This would
provide Chairman Ryan further autonomy to establish the level.
The House is expected to take up the resolution on January 25, timed to make a symbolic counter point to President Obama on the day of the State of the Union address.
For the House resolution to have any effect, the Senate would need to agree to establish FY11 discretionary funding at FY08 or lower levels; this is unlikely. The Senate will reconvene on January 25 and begin work on the FY11 appropriations process.
The House and Senate must work quickly to craft an appropriations plan. Congress has not yet passed any FY11 appropriations bills, and the federal government is currently funded under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on March 4 (see Memo, 1/14). It must advance departments’ appropriations bills, come to agreement on another CR or pass a long term CR to provide FY11 funding and then proceed to consider the FY12 budget and appropriations.
After the voice vote in the Rules Committee, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said in a released statement, “The message from the American people was crystal clear in this last election: they want government to spend less, stop undue interference in American lives and businesses, and take action to create jobs and get our economy moving again. This resolution is a statement that we have heard this message loud and clear, that we will move immediately to reduce spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, and that deep cuts to a host of government programs will be made.”
“As I have said before, it is my intention to craft the largest series of spending cuts in the history of Congress. My committee is working diligently on this right now, and will continue this effort throughout the appropriations process this year,” Chairman Rogers said.
On January 19, the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which counts more than 165 of the most conservative House Republicans among its members, released the Spending Reduction Act, which recommends reducing non-security discretionary spending to FY08 levels. It is expected that the plan will be formally introduced soon. “Compared to current projections, the Spending Reduction Act would save taxpayers $2.5 trillion through 2021,” according to an RSC press release. “It starts by keeping House Republicans’ pledge to take current spending back to 2008 levels and repeal unspent funds from the failed ‘stimulus’.”
Among the long list of cuts, the RSC plan would eliminate the HOPE VI severely distressed public housing revitalization program, HUD’s entire Community Development Fund, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and a HUD program providing doctoral dissertation research grants. It also would eliminate federal spending on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and dissolve these enterprises, repeal the Davis Bacon Act and eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation and Economic Development Administration.
To read Chairman Rogers’s statement, go to http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=252
RSC’s proposal is at http://rsc.jordan.house.gov/Solutions/SRA.htm