The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

March 5, 2013

Republicans unveil government funding measure

WASHINGTON — Republicans controlling the House moved Monday to ease a crunch in Pentagon readiness while limiting the pain felt by such agencies as the FBI and the Border Patrol from the across-the-board spending cuts that are just starting to take effect.

The effort is part of a huge spending measure that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September — and head off a potential government shutdown later this month.

The measure would leave in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered by President Barack Obama Friday night after months of battling with Republicans over the budget. But the House Republicans' legislation would award the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments their detailed 2013 budgets, giving those agencies more flexibility on where money is spent, while other agencies would be frozen at 2012 levels — and then bear the across-the-board cuts.

The impact of the new cuts was proving slow to reach the broader public as Obama convened the first Cabinet meeting of his second term to discuss next steps.

The Pentagon did say it would furlough thousands of military school teachers around the world and close commissaries an extra day each week. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the spending cuts were causing delays in customs lines at airports including Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago.

Obama said he was continuing to seek out Republican partners to reach a deal to ease or head off the cuts, but there was no sign that a breakthrough was in the works to reverse them.

The new GOP funding measure is set to advance through the House on Thursday. It's aimed at preventing a government shutdown when a six-month spending bill passed last September runs out March 27.

The latest measure would provide a $10 billion increase for military operations and maintenance efforts and a boost for veterans' health programs, but would put most the rest of the government on budget autopilot. Military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq would be cut to $87 billion — down from $115 billion last year — reflecting ongoing troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

"It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices, and it's up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future," said bill sponsor Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "But right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation. This bill will fund essential federal programs and services, help maintain our national security, and take a potential shutdown off the table.

Senate Democrats want to add more detailed budgets for domestic Cabinet agencies but it'll take GOP help to do so. The House measure denies money sought by Obama and his Democratic allies to implement the signature 2010 laws overhauling the health care system and financial regulation.

After accounting for the across-the-board cuts, domestic agencies would face reductions exceeding 5 percent when compared with last year. But Republicans would carve out a host of exemptions seeking to protect certain functions, including federal prisons and fire-fighting efforts in the West, and to provide new funding for embassy security and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The FBI and the Border Patrol would be able to maintain current staffing levels and would not have to furlough employees.

The legislation would provide about $2 billion more than the current level to increase security at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide. Last September, a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

A project to repair the Capitol Dome in Washington could stay on track, and NASA's space flight budget would be protected from the harshest effects of the automatic cuts, known in Washington as a sequester. An initiative to upgrade the Coast Guard fleet would be funded as well.

The across-the-board cuts would carve $85 billion in spending from the government's $3.6 trillion budget for this year, concentrating the cuts in the approximately $1 trillion allocated to the day-to-day agency operating budgets set by Congress each year. Those so-called discretionary accounts received big boosts in the first two years of Obama's presidency when Democrats controlled Congress but have borne the brunt of the cuts approved as Obama and Republicans have grappled over the budget.

Both Democrats and Republicans for months have warned the cuts are draconian and would slow the growth of the economy and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, for instance, says they would slow the economy by 0.6 percent and cost about 750,000 jobs.

Obama presided Monday over the first meeting of his new-look Cabinet in a sobering climate of fiscal belt-tightening, urging humane management of spending cuts for communities and families that are "going to be hurting."

"We can manage through it," the president told reporters. Obama and members of his Cabinet had been warning for weeks that the cuts would be painful, but the fact is they will be slow to take effect, with the first furloughs of government workers not due until next month. Cuts to many programs may go unnoticed entirely.

The White House budget office's 83-page sequestration order was released Friday evening, detailing the cuts to more than 1,000 separate government accounts, big and small. Cuts of 7.8 percent that are set to strike defense accounts include $5.2 billion for construction at Army bases. Other accounts are far smaller, like $32 million to operate and maintain the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Each agency is supposed to apportion the cuts equally to each "program, project and activity" within the broader accounts, which gives agency heads some flexibility since it's up to them to define what that means. And it's not clear what recourse others would have if they disagreed with an agency's choices.

"That leaves it pretty much to the administrators in the agency in which that account falls to determine how he's planning on applying it," said G. William Hoagland, a budget expert with the Bipartisan Policy Center. "I don't know that anybody's going to be held accountable if some administrator defines a project the way he wants to define it."

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

  • Woman arrested after dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing seven babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered the tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.

    April 14, 2014

  • Rome man killed in crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal crash that took place just after midnight Sunday.

    April 14, 2014

  • 3 dead in shootings at Kansas facilities

    Three people died Sunday when a gunman opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center and a senior living facility in Johnson County, Kan.

    April 14, 2014

  • High fees eroding many 401(k) accounts

    It’s the silent enemy in our retirement accounts: High fees.
    And now a new study finds that the typical 401(k) fees — adding up to a modest-sounding 1 percent a year — would erase $70,000 from an average worker’s account over a four-decade career compared with lower-cost options. To compensate for the higher fees, someone would have to work an extra three years before retiring.

    April 14, 2014

  • Abortion in cases of rape: New rifts in old debate

    Poll after poll over many years has shown that Americans overwhelmingly support legal access to abortion for women impregnated by rape. Yet the issue remains divisive, as demonstrated by two current rifts — one involving U.S. aid policy overseas, the other highlighting strategy differences within the U.S. anti-abortion movement.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video