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House Budget Committee approves additional spending cuts

Bills approved May 7 would avoid sequestration but cut an additional $324 billion
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In a move that critics say is a cure worse than the disease, the House Budget Committee voted May 7 to approve a pair of bills that would prevent automatic sequestration from taking place this January while cutting social net programs by $324 billion over a decade.

Federal spending faces the prospect of $109 billion in automatic cuts--i.e., sequestration--to spending during fiscal 2013 come Jan. 2, due to provisions of the Budget Control Act that Congress approved in 2011.

One House Budget Committee bill (H.R. 4966)--approved 21-13--would prevent discretionary sequestration from occurring while preserving $16 billion in cuts to mandatory programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $11 billion of that would come from Medicare.

The bill also would lower the Budget Control Act cap on discretionary spending from $1.407 trillion in fiscal 2013 to $1.028 trillion starting in January, which could in effect require a sequester of $19.1 billion since Senate appropriators already have said their spending bills will collectively add up to $1.047 trillion. The $19.1 billion sequester would not affect defense spending, however, since the bill especially excludes it from sequester.

The other House Budget Committee bill (.pdf), the "Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act," would cut mandatory spending by $324 billion, estimates the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The $324 billion would be in addition to the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over a decade required by the Budget Control Act.

The Reconciliation Act would increase the portion of federal employee pension contributions by 5 percent over 5 years.

The House Rules Committee voted May 7 to combine the two House Budget Committee bills into a single bill (.pdf) for consideration by the full House.

The prospects for the combined bill to become law in full form are not good, since Senate Democrats will likely reject it and President Obama is considered unlikely to sign it into law, were it to be approved by both chambers.

For more:
- download the combined House Budget Committee bills (.pdf)
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 4966
- download an analysis of the House bills by the Center for Budget Policy and Policy Priorities (.pdf)

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