Federal Relations

January 19, 2011

Federal Spending Cuts Planned

House Republicans are still considering options for how best to keep their campaign promise to cut federal spending and the overall size of government. Today they will consider a resolution that would require the House Budget Committee Chairman to set FY11 non-security discretionary spending limits at FY08 levels. The full House expects to vote on the measure early next week. If approved, which is likely, the vote would put the chamber on record in support of cutting non-security discretionary spending before President Obama gives his State of the Union Address to Congress next Tuesday.

Once the House sets a new FY11 discretionary spending cap, House GOP appropriators will start assembling an extension of the stopgap resolution that is now funding the government, including cuts to non-security domestic spending. The current CR, which runs through March 4th, generally continues funding at FY10 levels. Since the Senate’s Democratic majority is unlikely to go along with the House proposals, the two chambers and the President will eventually need to strike an agreement on funding the government for the remainder of the year.

The House Republican leadership also needs to turn their attention to the upcoming vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and development of an FY12 budget resolution. While lowering non-security discretionary spending to FY08 levels would be a major victory for Republicans, it is clear that they intend to push for even deeper cuts for FY12. The House Majority Leader has stated that Republicans won’t agree to increase the nation’s debt ceiling without strong assurances of cuts in federal spending. The House Republicans will almost certainly use the debt ceiling vote as a bargaining chip to lock in an agreement with Democrats and the President on spending cuts for FY12 and beyond.

Meanwhile, the House unanimously passed the second of its weekly GOP bills to cut spending yesterday. The amended bill (HR 292) eliminates the requirement that the Government Printing Office (GPO) print hard copies of introduced legislation for use by members of the House and Senate. Instead, they would only be published in electronic form, saving a significant portion of the $7 million the GPO is expected to spend on congressional printing this year.