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August 01, 2013

Did House GOP Pull Transportation Bill Because There Were Not Enough Republican Votes To Support The Cuts In It?

Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committiee says the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill was pulled because Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor didn't have the votes to pass it with the cuts mandated by the Ryan budget.

“The Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development funding bill that was pulled from floor consideration today was the first major attempt by the House to consider and pass an Appropriations bill that funds domestic programs under the austere level delineated under the Budget Control Act and the House budget resolution.

“The bill today reflected the best possible effort, under an open process, to fund programs important to the American people – including our highway, air and rail systems, housing for our poorest families, and improvements to local communities – while also making the deep cuts necessary under the current budget cap. In order to abide by sequestration budget levels, this bill cut $4.4 billion below the current, post-sequestration total to a level below what was approved for these programs in 2006 – over seven years ago.

“I am extremely disappointed with the decision to pull the bill from the House calendar today. The prospects for passing this bill in September are bleak at best, given the vote count on passage that was apparent this afternoon. With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago. Thus, I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration – and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts – must be brought to an end. And, it is also clear that the higher funding levels advocated by the Senate are also simply not achievable in this Congress.

Emphasis mine.

And what would these no doubt draconian cuts involve?

The House bill cuts $7 billion from 2013. Hardest hit in the GOP bill is the Community Development Block Grant program, which is cut nearly in half to $1.6 billion, a cut of $1.3 billion that makes its budget lower than it was in 1975. There is no funding for high-speed rail, and Amtrak gets a 21 percent cut to its operating budget.

House leaders say they had the votes but just ran out of time, they go on their 5 week vacation later today, so who knows for sure.

Circumstantial evidence however suggests House leaders have been reluctant to bring up controversial spending bills that have actual cuts.

The House has passed bills funding Defense and Veterans Affairs at higher levels and Homeland Security and Energy and Water with relatively minor cuts. The rest of the bills contain far more controversial cuts. The most contentious, the Labor and Health and Human Services bill, would be cut 19 percent below the sequester. It was slated for release last week, but that release was canceled.

Emphasis mine.

Over in the Senate, the usual gang of Republicans is pushing for more spending in that body's version of the same bill, even if it means busting the spending caps set out in the Budget Control Act.

A lot of this is just kabuki theater since no one expects Congress to pass all the appropriation bills anyway. Why bother taking unpopular votes that cut pork, er, "vital local infrastructure projects" on a bill that's going to be rolled into a massive Continuing Resolution when they come back in September.

Still, it's almost as if people still aren't serious about cutting non-defense spending. Huh. Who knew?


digg this
posted by DrewM. at 11:41 AM

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