Congress’ debate about government spending shifted this week to how to prevent coming sequestration cuts from dramatically reducing the Pentagon’s budget.
The sequestration cuts were laid out in a compromise reached last summer to raise the debt ceiling. The plan provided for the debt-deficit “super committee” that was charged with identifying a long-term plan to reduce the nation’s debt load, with the consequence of dramatic cuts split between domestic and defense spending if the committee’s negotiations failed. The negotiations did fail, causing approximately $110 billion in automatic cuts to go into effect soon after the first of 2013.
A new plan from House Republicans to change the source of the sequestration cuts was passed Monday by the House Budget Committee on a party-line vote and on Thursday by the full House on a 218-199 vote.
The alternative sequestration measure would replace planned cuts to discretionary programs with cuts to both discretionary and mandatory programs, including nearly $36 billion from the SNAP program, which used to be known as the food stamp program. The change of plans would cut or save, depending on the perspective, upwards of $300 billion over 10 years.
Meanwhile, work continued on regular appropriations bills, with the House’s version of the Commerce-Science-Justice appropriations bill approved Thursday, the first regular spending bill passed by either chamber.
Amendments to the C-S-J bill on the House floor included one from Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) to prohibit funds from being used to implement the National Ocean Policy as established by an executive order, which was approved 246 to 174. NAWG and many other agriculture and natural resource groups are concerned about the policy, which could be so broad as to also encompass regulation of activities along tributaries that lead into oceans.
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers