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House's frenzy of budget cuts: defund military bands, ban White House repairs

There's still no federal budget for 2011, so House members are trying to come up with a stopgap 'continuing resolution' with billions in cuts. What to cut? House members are making hundreds of proposals this week.

By Staff Writer / February 16, 2011

Chairman Harold Rogers (R) of Kentucky presides over a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans want to cut President Obama's budget for the rest of the fiscal year by $100 billion.

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With the clock ticking toward a March 4 deadline, House Republicans and the Obama administration are engaged in a budget ritual all too familiar in Washington: having failed to pass a budget for the full year, they’re scrambling to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year via a stopgap “continuing resolution.”

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Without a new continuing resolution by March 4, the government will have to shut down. No checks issued for Social Security pensioners and veterans. Gates slammed shut at national parks. Government scientists hanging up their lab coats.

So this week, members of the House are trying to finish work on a continuing resolution for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends in September. Complicating matters is House Republicans' goal to make the continuing resolution $100 billion cheaper than the fiscal year 2011 budget offered by President Obama a year ago but never passed. To this end, they are offering some 400 amendments – the proverbial legislative sausage-making.

The amendments range from the sweeping to the minuscule.

Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas would do away with the entire foreign aid budget. Rep. Betty McCollum (D) of Minnesota would ban the Defense Department from sponsoring NASCAR vehicles, or from spending more than $200 million (pocket change in federal budgeting) on “military bands, musical equipment or musical performance.”

Some amendments seem churlish. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) of Texas wants to ban spending for repairs to the Obama family’s residence at the White House.

Others make political statements far beyond the funding in question. One House GOP budget provision for FY 2011 would cut off funding for implementation of the new health-care reform law.

For all the criticisms of “Obamacare,” that could be politically tricky. A new CBS News poll shows that 55 percent of those surveyed don’t want that funding cutoff, compared with 35 percent who do.

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