House Republicans reach for $100 billion in spending cuts

WASHINGTON — Confronted with a rebellion of tea party-backed conservatives insistent on deeper spending cuts, House Republicans are promising to cut more than $60 billion from the budget as they draft legislation funding the government through Sept. 30.

Thursday's announcement by Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers comes just a day after he failed to sell a smaller package of cuts in a closed-door GOP meeting.

"Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred," Rogers said in a statement.

Driving the move is a promise made in last fall's campaign to cut $100 billion from President Barack Obama's proposals.

The Kentucky Republican had warned only Wednesday that such cuts could lead to layoffs of FBI agents and harm to the nation's air traffic control system. He also warned of cuts to health research, special education and Pell Grants for low-income college students.

Rogers had earlier outlined a plan making $74 billion in cuts from Obama's proposals.

The new version announced Thursday would produce actual savings more like $60 billion since Obama's budget asked for sizable spending increases that were never enacted. The earlier GOP plan would have saved $35 billion, or about 3 percent from the agency operating budgets the Congress passes every year.

Thursday's announcement caps a long struggle among Republicans over what they meant exactly when promising to cut $100 billion last year in their "Pledge to America" campaign document.

At the center of the debate has been the fact that the budget year began Oct. 1 and the government has been spending money at last year's levels since then. A stopgap government funding bill expires March 4.

That makes it much harder to keep the promise since it squeezes a year's worth of cuts into a seven-month time frame.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had earlier promised to spread the cuts over a calendar year, with the upcoming spending bill making a significant down payment in advance of another round of cuts as Congress hashes out next year's appropriations bills.

House Republicans reach for $100 billion in spending cuts 02/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 9:53pm]

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