December 21, 2014

House OKs Alternatives to “Automatic” Cuts

Last week the House passed legislation to replace most of the automatic spending cuts required in Fiscal Year 2013 with cuts to mandatory spending programs.  The Budget Control Act requires the automatic spending cuts because the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach agreement late last year.

The House legislation included proposals to cut food stamps and Medicaid, repeal portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and require federal employees to contribute more of their salaries to their retirement pensions.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the legislation would result in net deficit reduction of $237.8 billion over ten years if it were enacted by Oct. 1. The House approved the legislation with a vote of 218-199, though the Senate is not expected to pass it.  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has criticized the House bill for failing to raise new revenue while cutting programs that benefit the middle class and the poor.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan argues that the bill will avert defense cuts with reforms that stop the abuse of public assistance programs, restrain the growth of government, and eliminate waste and duplication.

The Concord Coalition has urged Congress not to abandon the automatic cuts without approving credible deficit-reduction alternatives.   

Also last week, the House passed the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, which is the first of the 2013 bills to pass the House.