House Panel OKs Budget Resolution Without Entitlement Cuts
The House Budget Committee on Wednesday voted 22-17 along party lines to approve a $2.8 trillion fiscal year 2007 budget resolution that does not call for mandatory spending reductions to Medicare or Medicaid, CQ Today reports. President Bush in his budget proposal last month outlined $65 billion in spending reductions from Medicare and other mandatory programs over five years.
The House resolution includes $6.8 billion in spending reductions to mandatory programs, but it "spar[es] politically sensitive programs such as Medicaid and Medicare," CQ Today reports (Dennis, CQ Today, 3/29).
Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) and other House committee chairs "are still figuring out how to meet the $6.8 billion mandatory spending cut goal," CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/29).
The House resolution adopts Bush's proposed $873 billion cap on discretionary spending, a 3.6% increase over last year (Dennis, CQ Today, 3/29). The plan includes a 7% increase in the core defense budget, not including war costs, meaning that domestic programs such as health research and education face tightened budgets (Seattle Times, 3/30).
Under the discretionary spending cap, "nonsecurity spending would rise by a negligible amount for a near-freeze over FY06 levels," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 3/29).
The House resolution's entitlement savings are "well shy of what conservatives had sought, but they remained heartened that reconciliation instructions were included at all," CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 3/29). "Some moderates are encouraged that the budget plan does not target entitlements, particularly Medicare," CongressDaily reports.
Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) said some of the larger spending reductions that had been under consideration "would have dealt a hefty blow to our hospitals and other caregivers," adding, "On the surface, it appears that we can claim victory" (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/30).
However, other moderate Republicans "attack[ed]" the resolution's spending levels for domestic programs, CQ Today reports.
Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.), who has called for $7 billion to restore a nominal increase in discretionary spending for health and education programs, said the House resolution was a "nonstarter." Castle said, "The domestic discretionary number is simply insufficient, and it will be extremely difficult to pass this budget resolution on the House floor" (CQ Today, 3/29).
The Wall Street Journal reports that Republican leaders in the Senate and House "face opposition from both conservative and moderate members of their party, and most Democrats are opposed" to the two chambers' budget resolutions (Mullins, Wall Street Journal, 3/30).
Democrats "blasted" the House resolution's effect on the budget deficit, which would total $348 billion in 2007, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Taylor, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/30).