Spending Bill: Details of $38 Billion in Cuts
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The Fiscal Times
April 12, 2011

The House late last night unveiled the details of the compromise plan to cut nearly $38 billion in spending from this year's budget, with roughly $20 billion coming from discretionary spending, the bulk in the areas of education, labor and health programs. The budget deal forged late Friday by the Obama administration and congressional Republican leaders will keep the government operating through the remainder of fiscal 2011, but at the cost of practically every aspect of domestic spending, and some trims to homeland security programs.

Funding for programs ranging from children's health-care initiatives and federal Pell grants, to job training and highway and rail projects would be cut under the agreement, which awaits final approval this week by the House, Senate and President Obama. Details of the cuts were revealed late Monday night by the House Appropriations Committee. The agreement marked an end to a months' long battle between the Democrats and Republicans over spending levels for the current year and the threat of a government shutdown. It also represents the largest non-defense spending cut in U.S. history.

“Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "The near $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money.” 
 
Rogers said that his committee went line-by-line through agency budgets last weekend to negotiate and craft "deep but responsible reductions" in virtually all areas of government. "Our bill targets wasteful and duplicative spending, makes strides to rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies, and will help bring our nation one step closer to eliminating our job-crushing level of debt.” Chairman Rogers continued.

While the final spending legislation goes after a multitude of domestic programs, it provides an increase in defense spending.  The Department of Defense is funded at $513 billion – or approximately $5 billion above last year's level – providing adequate resources for a military now waging war on three fronts. The bill also includes an additional $157.8 billion for emergency overseas contingency operations to advance U.S. missions abroad.

 Here is a breakdown of the final agreement and spending cuts, as outlined by the appropriations committee:

Overall Spending Limit: The final continuing resolution will include a total of $1.049 trillion in funding, a nearly $38 billion reduction from last year’s (fiscal year 2010) levels. This includes the $11 billion in reductions previously approved by Congress and signed into law under the previous three continuing resolutions, as well as roughly $27 billion in additional new spending cuts.

Agriculture: The bill funds Agriculture programs at $20 billion, $3 billion below the fiscal year 2010 enacted level and $3.2 billion below the President’s 2011 budget request.  It provides $1 billion for Food Safety and Inspection, $10 million below the fiscal year 2010 level, while allowing for uninterrupted meat, poultry, and egg products inspection activities of the agency. The bill also reduces Agricultural Credit Programs by $433 million, Agricultural Research Service by $64 million, and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture by $125.9 million below the fiscal year 2010 levels. The measure also includes $6.75 billion for the Special Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which allows the program to support more than 9 million income-eligible mothers, infants, and children up to 5 years of age.

Commerce, Justice, Science: The Commerce, Justice, Science section of the legislation contains a total of $53.4 billion, a $10.9 billion, or 17%, reduction from fiscal year 2010 levels, and a reduction of $7.1 billion, or 12%, from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request.  The CR provides funding above fiscal year 2010 levels for National Institute of Standards and Technology research and manufacturing programs, as well as critical FBI national security and prisons/detention requirements. Justice Department appropriations are reduced by $946 million below fiscal year 2010, with significant reductions to grant and construction programs, and Commerce Department appropriations are cut by $6.5 billion below fiscal year 2010. The bill also includes $18.5 billion for NASA and fully funds the newly authorized exploration program.

This section of the CR also prohibits funding for: the establishment of a Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the approval of new fisheries catch-share programs in certain fisheries; and for NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to engage in bilateral activities with China.
 
Energy and Water: The Energy and Water section is funded at $31.8 billion in the CR. This is a 10% reduction – or $3.6 billion – from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request, and a 5% reduction – or $1.7 billion – from fiscal year 2010 levels. These significant cuts further the House Republican commitment to deficit reduction and reining in the size of government, while at the same time protecting American security, providing support for private sector growth, and promoting a balanced national energy supply. The bill funds the Army Corps of Engineers at the President’s request level of $4.9 billion, supports existing applications for renewable energy loan guarantees at the Department of Energy, and provides a $697 million (7%) increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration to ensure adequate funding for critical components of our national defense.

Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.