Taxes & Spending

House Passes Record $60 Billion-Plus Government Spending Cut

The House Republicans passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to cut government spending this year by more than $60 billion.  The final measure is a 3% reduction in the budget deficit and the largest one-time cut in discretionary government spending in history.  

The bill passed at 4:40 a.m. on Saturday by by a vote of 235 to 189. The vote was mostly along party lines, except for three Republicans who wanted more spending cuts. 

After more than 60 hours of debate and votes over four days, the final bill included 67 amendments, which cut an additional $620 million in funding for specific government programs. 

“This bill is a monumental accomplishment for each and every American who believes that their government is spending too much,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R.-Ky.), who crafted the bill’s specific spending cuts, said in a statement after passage. 

“We held no program harmless from our spending cuts, and virtually no area of government escaped this process unscathed.  While these choices were difficult to make, we strived to spread the sacrifice fairly, weeding out waste and excess, with a razor-sharp focus on making the most out of every tax dollar,” Rogers stated. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio) kept a rare open process for debate all week, which allowed for Democrats and Republicans to offer 580 amendments to the bill.  

Of the 580 amendments offered, 102 of them had roll call votes on the floor, and 67 passed.  Of these, nine amendments would prohibit various government departments and agencies from using CR funds to implement ObamaCare.

The CR would fund the government for the remaining seven months of the current fiscal year.  The bill, however, still needs to be passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate and signed by President Obama by March 4 to avert a government shutdown

Fiscal conservative Republicans attempted and failed to pass more spending cuts to get closer to the GOP’s “Pledge to America“, which promised to cut spending to 2008 levels and save $100 billion in the first year. 

The three Republicans who voted against final passage of the CR were Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.), Rep. John Campbell (R.-Calif.), and Rep. Walter Jones (R.-N.C.).  Two GOP members did not vote, Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.) and Rep. Ben Quayle (R.-Ariz.), who had to be in California for his father-in-law’s funeral. 

Paul, Flake, and Campbell voted on Friday in favor of an amendment crafted by the conservative caucus Republican Study Group (RSC), which would have cut another $22 billion in this year’s spending. The amendment, co-sponsored by RSC Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R.-Tenn.) failed by a vote of 147 to 281.  The RSC says it has 175 members in its caucus. 

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), who had said on numerous occasions that he would support amendments to the CR that would further cut spending, voted against the RSC amendment. 

“Leader Cantor said that he would support a lot of amendments offered by members of the RSC, which he did,” his spokeswoman Laena Fallon told HUMAN EVENTS.  “He joined a number of conservatives in voting against the Jordan amendment because during a week in which the House will pass the largest spending cut in his lifetime, this additional across-the-board measure avoided singling out specific programs for cuts.”

The government is currently operating under a short-term CR, which was negotiated in December between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.).  The current CR, which expires on March 4, keeps government spending at the Democrats’ high levels from 2010. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) said that the $32 billion of spending cuts in the original CR from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) were “draconian” and “unworkable.” 

The White House issued a statement this week that the President “will veto the bill” if it “undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) laid the groundwork on Friday for the Senate or Obama to block the CR.  She introduced a new short-term CR, which keeps the government funded at current 2010 levels, indicating that the Democrats expect the President to veto the House-passed CR. 

Pelosi’s maneuver disregarded Boehner’s announcement a day earlier that the Republican House would not pass any bills that do not cut spending.  

“I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels,” said Boehner at a news conference on Thursday.  “When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips, we’re going to cut spending.”

The annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion this year is increasing the U.S. debt at a drastic pace.  The debt is more than $14 trillion now, and if the government keeps spending more than it is taking in, the nation is on track to hit the statutory debt ceiling in the next several months. 

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