WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans proposed ending more than 60 government programs and cutting hundreds of others Wednesday in a $35 billion downpayment on their promise to rein in federal deficits.
Funding for AmeriCorps, family planning funding and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be wiped out under the proposal, presented to the GOP rank-and-file at a closed door meeting.
As outlined by Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, cuts would range widely across the face of government, including aid to education, food safety and inspection services and high-speed rail, which President Barack Obama wants to increase.
The legislation is expected to reach the House floor next week. While the political focus is on the cuts demanded by Republicans, the bill is also needed to allow the government to continue normal operations when its funding authority expires on March 4.
Rogers told fellow Republicans his proposal amounted to a 10 percent cut to a food program for pregnant women and their children.
He also called for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as elimination of a program that helps local police departments hire new officers.
Rogers outlined the cuts in a closed-door meeting with his Republicans colleagues, many of whom were elected with tea party support and are itching to cut even deeper.
The package of cuts totals $43 billion taken from domestic agency and foreign aid budgets when compared with levels enacted for 2010. Once increases for the Pentagon are accounted for, those savings are $35 billion. They are smaller than the $100 billion promised in last year's campaign since the budget year is already almost five months under way.
Rogers warns that further cuts sought by conservatives could lead to furloughs of federal workers at the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency, or politically wrenching cuts to health research, special education grants to local school districts, or Pell Grants to disadvantaged college students.
As it stands, the proposed cuts are deep indeed. The Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food for low-income pregnant women, mothers and young children, would receive a $758 million cut, about 10 percent. It was unclear whether the reductions would force people off of the program.
The federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be eliminated. The corporation funds a small portion of the budget for National Public Radio, which is deeply unpopular with conservatives.
"We have taken a wire brush to the . budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people," Rogers said in a statement. "Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit."
Republicans account for their larger reduction amounts by pegging their recommended cuts to Obama's requests. They claim $58 billion in savings through the end of the year, compared with Obama's proposals for domestic agencies. That amount increases to $74 billion after defense cuts are folded in.
The list of cuts contains numerous winners and losers – and seeks to steer clear of political land mines. The FBI is essentially untouched. NASA would absorb just a 2 percent cut from current levels. And the National Park Service would be barely cut at all.
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