On 2 March 2011, Congress and the White House struck a deal to approve a two week stop-gap spending bill that has kept the government operating since 4 March. The Continuing Resolution cut $4 billion from the current fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget by eliminating earmarks and ending several programs the President proposed to terminate in his FY 2012 budget request. The short-term spending law was intended to provide policymakers with additional time to craft a plan to fund the government for the balance of the current fiscal year. The House and Senate, however, continue to struggle to find agreement on a funding bill that would carry the government though the end of FY 2011. Thus, on 11 March, House Republicans introduced a plan for another three week Continuing Resolution that would keep the government operating beyond the 18 March expiration of the current spending plan.
The House Appropriations Committee proposal for a three week extension would cut a total of $6 billion. Programs targeted for reduction or elimination include:
- $10.5 million for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Effects Network—Science Application;
- $10.0 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s local government climate change grants;
- $4.6 million for the National Park Service’s Preserve America program; and
- $14.8 million for the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program.
All of the spending cuts in this legislation were also included in HR 1 - a bill passed by the House that would fund the government for the remainder of FY 2011 - and many of these reductions and terminations were supported by President Obama in his annual budget requests. Additionally, $2.6 billion in earmarks would be terminated. The House proposal is expected to be brought to the chamber’s floor for a vote this week.
Although both parties appear to want to avoid a government shutdown, little progress has been made thus far in negotiations over how much to cut the federal budget for the remainder of FY 2011. Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is pushing for a total reduction of at least $61 billion, whereas the Democrats in the Senate want to limit cuts to non-defense spending to $10.5 billion. Last week, the Senate voted on and rejected the Republican and Democratic spending proposals.
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