The House Appropriations Committee on Friday released a $6 billion stopgap measure to fund government through April 8 – the sixth such continuing resolution since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
Like the previous short-term funding measure, which runs through March 18, the proposal includes many programs already slated for cuts in President Obama’s budget for the next fiscal year, resulting in savings of $3.5 billion. It also eliminates $2.6 billion in funding for member projects or earmarks, which would otherwise be automatically renewed.
But criticism on both sides of the aisle: support for interim measures is running low.
In a bid to reach a quick agreement with the Senate, the proposal avoids controversial policy additions, such as defunding implementation of health-care reform or ending federal support for Planned Parenthood.
Shutdown 'not an option'
“A government shutdown is not an option, period,” said Appropriations chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R) of Kentucky in a statement. “While short-term funding measures are not the preferable way to fund the government, we must maintain critical programs and services for the American people until Congress comes to a final, long-term solution."
As House Republicans had promised, the legislation includes $2 billion in cuts for every week in funding. Even so, it puts only a dent in the nation’s $1.5 trillion deficit. Many GOP conservatives, impatient with the failure of the Senate to consider higher budget cuts, are weighing a vote against the measure.
Others are demanding that the next continuing resolution include policy additions, called riders. Tea party Reps. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota and Steve King (R) of Iowa are calling for the new continuing resolution to block all funding to implement the new health-care reform law, including $105 billion in automatic funding that does not depend on an annual appropriations process.
“The success of our effort to shut off funding for ObamaCare will hinge on the leverage points of this first session of the 112th Congress – namely the CR, which expires on March 18, and the vote on raising the debt ceiling,” they wrote. “If we do not stand our ground on the CR, leverage it as the ‘must pass bill’ that it is, and use it to stop the $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds, ObamaCare will be implemented on our watch.”
Democrats, too, expressed impatience with the process and its outcomes. Even though none of these proposed program cuts are highly controversial, Democrats see the prospect of ongoing cuts as threatening progressive values. “You keep slicing this way and eventually you lose your heart,” said Rep. George Miller (D) of California.
Many of the cuts in the proposed CR cover programs no longer needed, such as $1.74 billion for the 2010 Census, $25 million for completed National Park Service “green” projects, or $48 million for the Commerce Department’s emergency steel loans. Only three loans were made under this program, none since 2003.
The measure also cuts environmental programs, especially those dealing with climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency loses $5 million in funding to help Congress enact cap-and-trade legislation (which never passed), $10 million in local government climate-change grants, and $10 million in grants to fund diesel retrofits for pollution reduction. The US Geological Survey loses $10.5 million to “provide data for forecasting the effects of climate change.”