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$3 billion battle over fighter jet engine heats up

By Andrew Taylor

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 16 2011 7:19 a.m. MST

"We know we can't balance this budget simply by reducing nonsecurity, nondefense spending," said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, referring to the 359-page bill that would cut $61 billion from domestic programs.

The measure is sweeping in its scope, cutting spending from literally hundreds of domestic budget accounts and eliminating many others. At the same time, the Pentagon budget would be increased by almost 2 percent from current levels.

In a reflection of tea party priorities, the practice in which lawmakers direct money to their pet projects is banned in the bill. And in a fulfillment of a promise that Republicans made to the voters last fall, about $100 billion would be cut from funds that Obama requested for the current fiscal year.

At a White House news conference, Obama said he looked forward to working with lawmakers in both parties on the spending bill, but warned against "a series of symbolic cuts this year that could endanger the (economic) recovery."

A few hours after Obama spoke, the White House issued a formal statement expressing "strong opposition" to the legislation for "cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation."

Republicans used their first major spending bill to reflect conservative priorities on a range of issues, from abortion to the environment.

The bill would prohibit federal funding for any private organization that uses its own funds to facilitate abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

At the same time, the EPA would be barred from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from factories and other stationary sites.

Conservatives said they would attempt to add other policy requirements to the legislation during floor debate, including one to prevent the implementation of the year-old health care law.

Others are backed by affected industries. One would stop the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing its proposed new "network neutrality" policy, which prohibits phone and cable companies from interfering with traffic on their broadband networks.

Officials said Senate Democrats agreed in a closed door meeting during the day to support one element of Obama's budget, a call for a five-year freeze across hundreds of domestic programs. Some accounts would face cuts to allow for growth in others. A formal announcement is expected Wednesday.

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