Discretionary Programs Focus of Spending Reductions
Most efforts to reduce spending in the federal budget focus on domestic discretionary programs -- such as medical research, health care and education -- that account for less than 20% of the budget, the New York Times reports. Mandatory programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, account for about 56% of the federal budget, but advocates have "fiercely defended" them, the Times reports.
According to the Times, a "result is a pitched battle over tiny corners of budget -- whether to shift $7 billion out of more than $500 billion in military spending into health and education programs -- rather than to attack the broader issues."
In his fiscal year 2007 budget plan, President Bush proposed to reduce spending for mandatory programs by $65 billion over five years. However, the House budget resolution, scheduled for a vote this week, currently would reduce spending for mandatory programs by only $6.8 billion over five years, and the Senate budget resolution approved last month includes no spending reductions for such programs. Federal spending for mandatory programs will reach almost $10 trillion over the next five years, according to the Times (Andrews, New York Times, 4/6).
House Republican leaders on Wednesday "intensified their efforts" to ensure passage of the budget resolution and appeared "to be making more progress with the conservative faction than with the moderates," CongressDaily reports.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chair of the Republican Study Committee, said that House Republican leaders have agreed to requests for line-item veto legislation and the formation of a "sunset commission" to eliminate federal programs.
A spokesperson for House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) confirmed the agreement.
RSC also has requested mechanisms to challenge non-military emergency spending that exceeds a certain level and to eliminate earmarks from conference reports that were not previously debated by the House or Senate.
Boehner said that he has not discussed those two requests with House Appropriations Committee Chair Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), who might oppose them (Cohn , CongressDaily, 4/5).
In the event that Lewis decides to oppose the House budget resolution, other House Appropriations Committee members likely would oppose the legislation as well, CongressDaily reports. Meanwhile, moderate House Republicans, who said they do not expect the House Rules Committee to allow a vote on their amendment that would add more than $7 billion in discretionary spending to the budget resolution, "appear resigned to voting against" the legislation, according to CongressDaily (Cohn , CongressDaily, 4/5).
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said, "We have some people who have different interests," adding, "We are pulling people together as we speak" (Dennis, CQ Today, 4/5).