After days of marathon debating and voting, the House of Representatives approved a package of budget cuts that would severely curtail the role of the federal government in several different areas of American life.
A mere three Republicans voted against the bill, and the final vote was 235-189 as all Democrats rejected the measure to cut $61 billion over the next seven months. It would mark “the largest rescission of federal funds since the conclusion of World War II.”
The vote showed the power of the conservative Republican freshmen that pushed the leadership to make the large cuts that, as the LA Times points out, are “many times the size” of the cuts approved by the House in 1995. That package that led to a government shutdown tried to cut the non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent; the one approved Saturday morning would cut around 15 percent.
The move effectively set up what could be a dangerous game of chicken with President Obama and Senate Democrats, who have refused to accept the Republican measure, labeling it as draconian. Democrats say that with the economy still on uncertain footing, it’s not the right time to be slashing jobs and insist Republicans are using the opportunity to target federal programs they don’t like and cripple government regulators, such as the SEC.
But considering so many of the first-year lawmakers are holding public office for the first time, it’s unclear how they would react to the Republican leadership negotiating away some of the cuts.
Time is running out. The Senate is expected to take up the bill the first week of March, mere days before March 4, when the stopgap measure that is funding the government expires. A temporary extension seems inevitable but when Democrats tried to propose it, Republicans shot it down. Each side seems to believe a government shutdown would hurt the other.
Some of the proposed cuts:
–Eliminate federal family planning and teen pregnancy prevention grants
–Block federal aid to overseas groups that provide abortions or counsel women about them
–Prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations curbing emissions of gases that cause global warming
–Stop the Federal Communications Commission from preventing broadband providers from interfering with Internet traffic on their networks
–Cut $747 million in food aid for poor pregnant women and women with children up to the age of 5
–Limit this year’s budget for the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to $80 million
–Cut the budgets of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, charged with enforcing financial law
The cuts would put an additional $200 in your pocket.
–The Defense Department budget remains a sacred cow
–No talk of lawmakers taking furloughs and/or pay cut, or parying for their own health insurance and pensions
–Nothing to address the real money-draining federal programs: Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security
–What is the cost of not enforcing financial law?
–What is the cost of a young mother going on welfare after having a child she can’t afford to care for?
–What’s the cost of not providing HIV testing?
–What is the cost of not enforcing environmental regulation that protects against toxic dumping in waterways and lands