Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kicking the Budget Debate "Can" Down the Road

Republicans and Democrats are still far apart on the principles underlying funding of the Federal government through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011, except for agreeing that certain programs proposed to be cut by President Obama for the next fiscal year should no longer be funded in this fiscal year.  A short-term budget bill (see text here) that will fund the Federal government through March 18 was passed 335 to 91 in the House (House roll call here) and 91 to 9 in the Senate (Senate roll call here), and then signed by the President on Wednesday.  Unlike H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution passed by the House two weeks ago (see here), the Continuing Resolution signed into law  on Wednesday is a simple piece of legislation, with no riders, but one that cuts $4 billion by eliminating dozens of earmark spending projects and programs, and eight programs that the Obama Administration had identified as unnecessary in its 2012 Fiscal Year budget proposal (see this "Terminations, Reductions and Savings" document that accompanied the President's budget proposal).  This House Appropriations Committee release summarizes those cuts. 

Earmark cuts particularly relevant to Mississippi River Basin concerns include:
  • $56 million - Army Corps of Engineers, Investigations
  • $341million - Army Corps of Engineers, Construction
  • $80 million - Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi River
  • $39 million - Army Corps of Engineers, Operations and Maintenance
  • $38 million - Bureau of Reclamation, Water and Related Resources
  • $41 million - Science and Technology – research projects
  • $77 million - Office of Science – science research
The Continuing Resolution provides two full legislative weeks for negotiations to continue on a long-term funding bill before it's spending authority ends and before the March 21 start of the next scheduled week-long Senate and House recess.  But that two weeks is a short time period to bridge the wide gap between the cuts envisioned in the Republican-backed H.R. 1, and the view of Senate Democrats, who have labeled GOP cuts as "draconian," and short-sighted, damaging economic growth and stripping investments in infrastructure, education, research and development.  For a summary of H.R. 1 and a summary of cuts in the bill to programs and agencies central to Mississippi River Basin issues, please refer to the lead article in the February Update from the Northeast-Midwest Institute on Mississippi River Basin issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment