Rogers’ First Cuts

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The House Appropriations Committee today released a preliminary list of 70 programs they intend to trim – or in some places slash. The committee tomorrow is expected to release it’s omnibus appropriations package to fund the government for the rest of 2011. Congress last year failed to pass any of the 2011 appropriations bills and the temporary continuing resolution that Congress passed during the lame duck expires March 4.

Republicans had pledged to cut $100 billion from this year’s non-defense discretionary spending. But given that the fiscal year, which ends in September, is nearly half over that goal got downgraded. Earlier this week House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan set the overall top line number at $1.055 trillion – or $35 billion less than what Dems wanted for 2011.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blasted Ryan’s number as “draconian” and “unworkable.” It’ll be interesting to see if he can come up with some even more hyperbolic adjectives. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers seems to have taken the cutting a step farther with $58 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts and another $16 billion in security cuts. On the chopping block is a lot of green jobs funding:

·         Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy   -$899M
·         Office of Science   -$1.1B
·         GSA Federal Buildings Fund   -$1.7B (I presume this is money to make federal buildings green)
·         EPA   -$1.6B
·         DOE Loan Guarantee Authority   -$1.4B

Rogers agreed with President Obama that Community Services Block Grants need to be cut – to the tune of $405 million. He also clearly read a GAO report this week that took aim at the redundancies in government job training programs; he proposes to cut a whopping $2 billion in job training funds. Rogers was not impressed with Obama’s pitch for high speed rail: he wants to slice $1 billion from that program and an additional $224 million from Amtrak. Finally, health care took a bit hit as well with $1 billion in proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and another $1.3 billion from Community Health Centers.

The bill is expected to pass the House next week. It will be open to amendments, though, which could delay things as Dems attempt to restore funding and Republican Study Committee members try and take more out – including at least one provision that will strip money for health care reform implementation. After that it’ll go to the Democratically-controlled Senate where a majority of these cuts will likely be restored before they send it back to the House. Let the ping ponging begin.