Budget passed by House eases cuts disliked by both parties

Vote Scorecards

Heritage Action for America, a group affiliated with the Heritage Foundation that backs limited government, said it will include the budget vote in its scorecard ranking the records of members when they seek re-election.

South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney said the legislation “trades spending increases now for promised reductions in the future.” Mulvaney, who organized a letter to Boehner calling for a bill retaining the cuts, said “past promised spending reductions just never seem to pan out.”

Whether yesterday’s show of bipartisanship could lead to cooperation on a broader tax-and-spending agreement or is a limited compromise of convenience has yet to be determined.

“The big test of that will be when we get to the debt ceiling, whether or not House Republicans again threaten not to pay the bills that are due and owing, and try and use that moment to extract, you know, concessions on their political agenda,” Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend.

Domestic, Defense

A 2011 budget plan that raised the debt ceiling established the cuts as a hammer -- with the threat of equal pain to domestic and defense programs -- to force congressional negotiators to reach a deal on taxes and entitlement spending. After they failed, Congress allowed the first wave of cuts to primarily affect domestic programs starting last March.

The alternative to a bipartisan deal was for Congress to let $109 billion in scheduled across-the-board spending cuts pinch programs, including scientific and medical research.

The Pentagon had warned that that an additional $19 billion in cuts starting in January could compromise national security.

There are signs that lawmakers remain frustrated by divides. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, lashed out at some groups that typically ally with Republicans for criticizing the deal and urging lawmakers to vote against it.

Credibility Lost

“They are misleading their followers,” Boehner said yesterday at a Capitol Hill news conference. “They are pushing our members in places they don’t want to be. And frankly, I just think they’ve lost all credibility.”

The main components of the deal include raising contributions that new federal employees make to their retirement plans and increasing premiums for pensions backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

One of the largest areas of savings in the next 10 years comes from an increase in aviation security fees, which would reduce the deficit by more than $12 billion.

The deal includes reduced cost-of-living increases for working-age military retirees.

The budget plan also tightens eligibility criteria for and overpayments in programs including unemployment insurance, Medicaid and benefits for federal prisoners.

It eliminates a 2005 natural gas and petroleum resources research program and caps income paid to federal contractors.


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