The GOP budget plan that was voted on by the House a few months ago has come to an abrupt, screeching halt as lawmakers are forced to recognize that it simply will not work. The Ryan budget was passed in the House along party lines last March — and almost didn’t pass at all, as 10 Republican representatives voted with the 197 Democrats against it, making the final vote tally 221-207. Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, even went so far as to state, “I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration – and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts – must be brought to an end.”
The House Appropriations Committee, which is in charge of determining the specific expenditures of money by the federal government, is one of the most powerful and influential groups in Washington. That Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is echoing the Democratic talking point of ending the sequester, and unrealistic cuts to spending, is definitely noteworthy — and his statement that, “sequestration – and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts – must be brought to an end,” is a Democratic talking point.
Since the sequester took hold in March, Democrats have been ceaselessly pointing out how damaging the sequester will be to our economy, government, and by extension of both, people. In May, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee published their third report on the adverse effects that will be felt by Americans, essentially making the point that it is better to pay for maintenance than repairs:
“A few departments and agencies have found ways to mitigate some very specific impacts of sequestration,” the authors wrote. “However, these strategies merely replace one set of cuts with cuts to other parts of the same agency. All will have an impact, and nearly all will have to be made up with future appropriations.”
“Piecemeal efforts to manage sequestration are counterproductive,” the report concluded. “They often require underfunding long-term needs to mitigate short-term pain. In many instances, the annual savings mask increased longer-term costs.”
To illustrate this point, the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee looked at the efforts made by Congress to end the furloughing of air traffic controllers shortly after complaints surfaced over flight delays. While the Federal Aviation Administration was granted flexibility to end those furloughs, it came “at the expense of another priority,” the report said. In this case, the FAA can no longer fund construction projects with discretionary funds. Officials estimated the costs of congestion and delays at airports will exceed $34 billion by 2020. (Huffington Post)
They go on to report more specific areas that Democrats have pointed out will be negatively hit by sequestration:
- Research projects will feel the budget cuts, with the National Institutes of Health estimating that it will support 1,357 fewer grants in fiscal 2013 than in fiscal 2012.
- The Department of Energy will face challenges “remediating the contamination from the nation’s nuclear weapons development effort” because of a $430 million cut.
- Rural rental assistance for those in need will be hit, with an estimated 15,000 aid recipients expected to get less while an estimated 70,000 children “will lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start.”
- The Forest Service will enter the 2013 firefighting season with 500 fewer firefighters.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will place fewer vaccines, drugs and supplies into the national stockpile used for “countermeasures needed to respond to bioterrorist attacks.”
And now, even the GOP is waking up. The Paul Ryan budget plan has fallen apart, after House Republicans realized they would not be able to get even close to the requisite number of votes. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said that the bill will be appropriated following the August recess, but other Republicans, including the House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers, have indicated that is extremely unlikely.
Brett LoGiurato of Business Insider states that, “But the problem with Ryan’s budget is that it works in abstractions, and is never binding. And Republicans learned that, for the sake of saving face while going back to their districts, the heavy cuts projected in the Ryan budget just weren’t workable.” He goes on to report, “Republicans passed the unspecific outlines of the Ryan budget earlier this year, because they look good in abstraction. But when it comes to specifics, the knife cuts too deep. Meanwhile, the Senate will move Thursday to the next step in its version of the THUD bill.”
Politically, this could be very good news for the Democratic Party, allowing Democratic votes to largely control the future of the federal budget:
All of this is a harbinger for the coming fight over funding the government. If House Republicans can’t establish a position of their own, then the Senate will drive the whole process (its Transportation/HUD bill will probably pass on a bipartisan basis this week) and appropriations will be extended past September one way or another on the strength of Democratic votes.
It also suggests that the GOP’s preference for permanent sequestration-level spending, particularly relative to increasing taxes, is not politically viable. If they want to lift the defense cuts, they’re going to have to either return to budget negotiations with Democrats, or agree to rescind sequestration altogether. (Talking Points Memo)
Perhaps, as TPM states, the “GOP’s long-awaited comeuppance has arrived.”
Reposted from Occupy Democrats with permission.
- The GOP’s Entire Budget Strategy Collapsed Yesterday, And Almost No One Noticed (businessinsider.com)
- Appropriations chief lashes out at GOP after spending bill is pulled (thehill.com)
- The GOP Calls Its Own Fiscal Bluff (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Republicans need a budget deal. They need a budget deal bad. (washingtonpost.com)