The legislation is designed to prevent a government shutdown when current funding runs out March 27
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Senate Democrats and Republicans Monday night released a catchall government funding bill that denies President Barack Obama new money for implementing signature first-term accomplishments like new regulations on Wall Street and his expansion of government health care subsidies but provides modest additional funding for domestic priorities like health research and highway projects.
Monday’s measure is the product of bipartisan negotiations and is the legislative vehicle to fund the day-to-day operations of government through Sept. 30 — and prevent a government shutdown when current funding runs out March 27.
It sets a path for government in the wake of across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1. In most cases the minor changes in agency budgets amount to housekeeping within a trillion-dollar cap for the day-to-day operations of agencies in the current budget year.
Passage in the Senate this week seems routine and could presage an end to a mostly overlooked battle between House Republicans and Obama and his Senate Democratic allies over the annual spending bills required to fund federal agency operations.
The measure expands upon House GOP legislation that passed last week, adding sometimes symbolic funding and flexibility for scores of programs and challenges House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who warned Democrats last week not to load the measure up too much.
But each of the additional items was drawn from earlier informal House-Senate agreements, and top Senate Appropriations Committee Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama has signed on.
The bipartisan measure comes as Washington girds for weeks of warfare over the budget for next year and beyond as both House and Senate Budget Committees this week take up blueprints for the upcoming 2014 budget year.
The first salvo in that battle is coming from House Republicans poised to release on Tuesday a now-familiar budget featuring gestures to block “Obamacare,” turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees and sharply curb Medicaid and domestic agency budgets. Such ideas are dead on arrival with Obama and Democrats controlling the Senate, but will — in concert with new taxes on the wealthy enacted in January — allow Republicans to propose a budget that would come to balance within 10 years.
“We think we owe the American people a balanced budget,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Senate Democrats are countering on Wednesday with a budget plan mixing tax increases, cuts to the Pentagon and relatively modest cuts to domestic programs. The measure would not reach balance, but it would undo automatic budget cuts that started taking effect this month and largely leaves alone rapidly growing benefit programs like Medicare.
“We need to make sure that everybody participates in getting us to a budget that deals with our debt and our deficit responsibly,” Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Monday evening.
The upcoming debate over the long-term budgetary future promises to be stoutly partisan, even as Obama is undertaking outreach to rank-and-file Republicans in hopes of sowing the seeds for a bipartisan “grand bargain” on the budget this year after two failed attempts to strike agreement with House Speaker John Boehner. Obama’s budget is already weeks overdue and Press Secretary Jay Carney deflected questions about it Monday, other than to promise that it would “for a period of time” bring deficits below 3 percent of gross domestic product, a measure that many analysts say is sustainable without damaging the economy.
The wrap-up spending bill for the half-completed fiscal year released Monday, however, is another matter entirely. It’s a lowest common denominator approach that gives the Pentagon much-sought relief for readiness accounts but adds money sought by Democrats like Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., for domestic programs such as Head Start, health research, transportation and housing.
The Senate measure would award seven Cabinet departments — including Defense, Commerce, justice, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs — with their line-by-line detailed budgets, but would leave the rest of the government running on autopilot at current levels. All domestic agencies except for Veterans Affairs would then be subject to a 5 percent across-the-board cut while the Pentagon would bear an 8 percent cut.
Mikulski needs GOP votes to pass the measure through the Senate, which Democrats control with 55 votes but where 60 votes are required for virtually every piece of substantive legislation. Using their leverage, Republicans have denied a White House request for almost $1 billion to help set up state health-care exchanges to implement Obamacare as well as smaller requests for financial regulators to implement the 2010 Dodd-Frank law overhauling regulation of Wall St. and for the IRS to police tax returns.
It is hoped that the pre-negotiated Senate measure could return to the House — which passed a different catchall spending bill last week — and pass through that chamber unchanged and be sent on to Obama well in time to avert a politically disastrous government shutdown.
House Republicans weighed in strongly and successfully against a proposal by Mikulski to give the Obama administration greater flexibility to transfer funds between accounts to cope with the across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration. By law, the across-the-board cuts are supposed to be taken in equal measure from front-line programs like air traffic control, meat inspection and the Border Patrol and lower-priority items such as agriculture research and subsidies for airline travel to rural airports.
Even as many Republicans attack the administration for choices such as ending White House tours or canceling early snow removal from Yellowstone National Park, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee in particular fear that giving Obama greater flexibility would erode Congress’ control over the federal purse, which is enshrined in the Constitution and zealously guarded.
Thirty-eight Senate Republicans voted last month to give Obama significant flexibility to manage the automatic cuts, including Shelby and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
More Related Stories
- Apple's biggest sin: Popularity
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- When America became a third-world country
- Wikipedia cleans up its mess
- Should wunderkinds be allowed to drop out of high school?
- Former IRS commissioner to testify on Capitol Hill
- Apple uses foreign companies to avoid billions in taxes
- IRS meltdown was long overdue
- Pentagon adviser pushed Anthrax drug, which his firm produced
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- How to screw up Tumblr
- Big Soda SNAP-ing up billions off government programs
- Yahoo shells out $1.1 billion for Tumblr
- Xenophobia only benefits the 1 percent
- Paul Krugman's right: Austerity kills
- How Guantanamo affects China: Our human rights hypocrisies
- Growing, lurking threat: "Paper terrorism"
- How right-wingers use semantic tricks to kill government
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11