Four hot-button issues Republicans will target next

After fulfilling a campaign pledge to vote to repeal last year's health-care reform law, House Republicans are setting a blistering pace to move new legislation to cut the size and scope of government, including bills that have stoked partisan fires in the past. Here are four key measures to watch.

1. Spending cuts

Charles Dharapak / AP / File
House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia speaks to reporters Jan. 4 in Washington. On Jan. 18, Mr. Cantor promised a vote within a week to cut spending back to 2006 levels for most Cabinet agencies. That’s about $1 of every $6 that domestic agencies spend on their-day-to-day budgets.

During the election, Republican leaders pledged to cut $100 billion out of federal spending for fiscal year 2011, but caucus conservatives are calling for much deeper cuts. The 176-member Republican Study Committee (RSC) – up from 115 in the last Congress – on Thursday introduced a Spending Reduction Act that proposes cutting $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years, shifting spending back to fiscal 2006 levels.

This includes cutting the nondefense federal workforce by 15 percent, freezing federal pay increases for five years, and cutting federal travel in half ($7.5 billion savings). Programs to be hit include Amtrak ($1.56 billion less annually), the Community Development Fund ($4.5 billion a year less), National Endowment for the Arts ($167.5 million), high-speed rail ($2.5 billion), US Agency for International Development ($1.39 billion), and economic aid to Egypt ($250 million).

“The job of the RSC is to make sure that Republicans act like Republicans,” said its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio.

While not endorsing the RSC proposal, Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin says he welcomes the debate. “The spending spree is over,” he said in a statement. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) of Maryland, the top Democrat on the budget panel, dubbed the RSC proposal “reckless in terms of its impact on the economy and jobs.”

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