The new majority in the House of Representatives is moving forward with plans to reduce federal spending for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2011, which began on 1 October 2010. Science and almost all other non-security budgets have been targeted for cuts.
On 11 February, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) proposed a reduction of $61 billion, relative to the FY 2010 enacted budget, from an upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fund the government for the remaining seven months of FY 2011. House Republicans are touting the proposal as "the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation." The proposal would target numerous government agencies and programs for spending cuts, including:
- National Science Foundation (total for agency): -$359.5 million
- Research and Related Activities: -$150.0 million
- Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: -$62.5 million
- Education and Human Resources: -$147.0 million
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: -$484.3 million
- Smithsonian Institution: -$30.0 million
- Environmental Protection Agency: -$3 billion
- National Institutes of Health: -$1.6 billion
- Agricultural Research Service: -$185.1 million
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture: -$217.1
- Department of Energy, Office of Science: -$893.2 million
The spending plan includes $26 billion in additional cuts from the proposal floated by Rep. Rogers just days before. Conservative lawmakers fiercely criticized the earlier plan, which would have cut $74 billion from the CR relative to the President's budget request for FY 2011. Rogers announced on 10 February that he would include additional reductions in the CR in order to reduce spending by at least $100 billion relative to the President's FY 2011 budget. Many Republican Representatives campaigned on a promise of reducing spending in FY 2011 by at least $100 billion.
"After meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the CR can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President's request immediately - fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican 'Pledge to America' in one fell swoop," said Rogers in a statement released on 10 February. "Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation."
Democrats were quick to criticize the plan. "Republicans are proposing an irresponsible spending bill that threatens job and economic growth, hampers our global competitiveness, and harms the people hurting most: working families and the middle class," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "The Republican proposal would target critical education programs like Head Start, halt innovation and disease research, end construction projects to rebuild America, and take cops off the beat," she said.
The large scope of the proposed spending reductions may make it very difficult for the GOP-led House to eventually reach an agreement with the Democratic Senate. The clock is ticking for Congress to act, as the current spending bill for FY 2011 ends on 4 March. The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debate on the CR on 15 February.
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