With the White House preparing to go to the mattresses with a government shutdown and Senate Democrats still refusing to put together any kind of budget, House Republicans have offered a one-week continuing resolution to buy extra mediation time. Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers released the plan yesterday, which comes up with a hefty cut in spending but avoids some of the rider issues to which Barack Obama has objected. It also positions any further negotiations more firmly on Republican ground:
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced another temporary funding measure – known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) – to prevent a government shutdown for an additional week while cutting a total of $12 billion in discretionary spending. The measure also includes funding for the Department of Defense for the remainder of the current fiscal year. …
“We cannot let the unruly actions of one person cause a government-wide shutdown and unravel the efforts House Republicans have made to significantly reduce spending and rein in our historic deficits. Therefore, I am introducing a short-term continuing resolution today to keep the government open for another week. This bill will cut $12 billion to help chip away at ballooning budgets, and includes responsible funding for our national defense for the rest of the fiscal year.
“This bill is not the preferable way to go forward, and I would greatly prefer to come to a final agreement with the Senate to put this long-overdue budget work behind us. However, we must maintain critical programs and services for the American people and protect our nation’s financial future. This legislation give us this option, while exacting a price for Leader Reid’s delays and allowing time to finally begin honest negotiations.”
The cuts get spread across the entire federal government, including Defense, an effort to demonstrate that conservatives will sacrifice on their priorities to ensure reductions in government spending. Here is the brief list of cuts, with more detail at the Appropriations site:
- Agriculture – $1.4 billion
- Commerce/Science/Justice – $430 million
- Energy and Water – $976 million
- Military Construction/Veterans Affairs – $979 million
- Financial Services – $763 million
- Homeland Security – $1.4 billion
- Interior – $1.27 billion
- Labor/HHS – $2.5 billion
- State/Foreign Operations – $832 million
- Transportation/HUD – $2.7 billion
That’s a lengthy list that spreads the pain fairly equally. Defense, however, takes more cuts than any, with rescissions of earmarks alone accounting for over $4 billion in reductions. However, the House bill would fund Defense for the full year, not just the one week period following the expiration of the current CR. Rogers reduced Pentagon funding by 2.9% from Obama’s FY2011 request, which still amounts to an increase of 1.5% from FY2010 ($7 billion).
Politically, that’s a smart move. That takes the “our troops won’t get paid” argument off the table for any future showdowns over the budget, and locks in the spending cuts in the area where Democrats love to challenge the GOP. Instead, Republicans can claim that they have already addressed their own sacred cows and challenge Democrats to do the same.
It does NOT appear to contain any of the controversial riders (defund NPR, defund planned parenthood, etc.) although I may be missing them. Assuming I’m not, I think I get the strategy here: they’re forcing military / defense spending off the table. If Reid/Obama pass this, a week from now they’ll be negotiating weaker as any government shutdown won’t result in unpaid military personnel. If they refuse to pass it, they’re clearly choosing shutdown over a non-controversial CR (i.e. one that doesn’t have the riders).
A search of the bill shows no reference to NPR, PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or Planned Parenthood, so it appears that Rob is right. It also mentions nothing specifically about abortion at all. It’s an attempt to pass a clean CR without any hooks for demagoguery that will secure final funding for the Pentagon and give Congress and the White House a week to concentrate on everything else.
It’s not the best solution to the standoff; that’s still a rational budget that substantially cuts government spending. This CR is a pretty good fallback position this week, and perhaps even more so if Harry Reid and Barack Obama refuse to consider it. If they take the bait, the shutdown and any interruption in military issues will be their responsibility — and the Republican-led House will show once again that it can pass budgets, a claim that the previous House majority couldn’t or wouldn’t do even with total control in Washington.