Spending deal revealed: What got cut to avoid a government shutdown?
The spending deal to avoid a government shutdown had been agreed to last Friday, but the details of the $39 billion in cuts were not released until Tuesday.
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But Republicans aren’t putting out press releases about government programs that escaped the ax. They’re all about the sea change in Washington’s approach to spending since the GOP took control of the House.Skip to next paragraph
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“Never before has Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation,” said Rep. Hal Rogers (R) of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in a statement Tuesday. “The nearly $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money.”
In fact, the House committee scored the bill as cutting $39.9 billion in spending compared with the fiscal year 2010 budget. In the estimation of Senate appropriators, the cuts came to $38.5 billion.
Some of the cuts also belong under the heading “budgetary sleight of hand” – unspent funds that can just be wiped off the books in the name of “savings.” Some examples: $1.7 billion that was left over from the 2010 census, $2.5 billion in highway spending that cannot be used anyway due to legislative restrictions, and $3.5 billion in children’s health-insurance funds that were left unspent.
“Taking away student aid – that’s real,” says Peter Davis, an investment adviser with years of Capitol Hill budget experience. “When you’re taking money out of things that weren’t going to happen anyway, that’s not real.”
On aid to students, he’s referring to the budget provision that bars students from using two Pell Grants in one year – one for the regular school year, and one for summer school. That change is projected to save $35 billion over the next decade.
For some advocates who held their breath during the budget negotiations, and wound up with cuts but not complete elimination of funding, the final result is a glass half full.
One example is international family-planning money. The bill cuts US funding for the UN Population Fund to the 2008 level of $40 million. But Republicans wanted no funding. And they also did not reinstate the so-called Mexico City Policy, which withholds US funds from foreign aid organizations that use their own money to support abortion services.