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House Budget Committee’s Ryan says “spending spree is over”

February 3, 2011

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan announced that Republicans will cut more than $30 billion in non-security discretionary spending through the end of the current fiscal year.  

A continuing resolution passed in the lame duck session will funding federal government operations through March 4, leaving just the final seven months of the fiscal year to make the cuts.

The committee say the proposal represents $58 billion in cuts compared to the President’s FY 11 budget.   What it amounts to is that non-security discretionary spending will be cut $40 billion before $8 billion is added back for the Defense Department. 

In a statement, Rep. Ryan called the action  a “down-payment” that will help restart America’s engine of economic growth and job creation.

“The spending limit measure marks another step in House Republicans’ continued efforts to change Washington’s pervasive culture of spending. In one of our first acts in the new Majority, we voted to cut Congress’s own budget. We voted to cut trillions of dollars in new government spending by advancing a repeal of the President’s health care law. The President has asked for an increase in the national debt limit, but we must first work to enact serious spending cuts and reforms. Endless borrowing is not a strategy. Business as usual in Washington is not acceptable.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released spending limits and cuts for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees including Agricultural, Rural Development, and FDA, which will see $3.239 billion in cuts, representing a 14 percent decrease from FY 2010 spending. 

While specifics have not been determined, a Republican Study Committee budget cutting proposal might provide some clues.  The RSC recommends eliminating the $1.4 billion annual budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the $200 million Market Access Program, and the $56 million organic certification cost-share program.

 So what does this mean for farm programs?

With the exception of WIC, rural development loans and grants, research and education, soil and water conservation technical assistance, animal and plant health, management of National Forests, and domestic and international marketing assistance, the rest — roughly 80 percent  — of USDA’s budget falls into the category of mandatory spending.

Mandatory programs are untouched by this action.

The Washington Post reports that a budget resolution could go to the House floor when the chamber goes back into session Feb. 14.    With a projected $1.5 trillion budget deficit, Politico reports the House Budget Committee proposal demonstrates the limits of non-defense discretionary spending cuts on the overall deficit.

Those limits may give added impetus now to a bipartisan effort in the Senate to craft a larger deficit reduction, 10-year plan that would include tax and entitlement reform. Close Senate allies of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have participated in the talks, and the White House has begun to take notice with Budget Director Jack Lew coming to the Capitol Thursday for a luncheon with Senate Democrats.

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