The House Rules Committee has cleared a measure that provides further evidence of the plan of the chamber's new Republican majority to trim federal non-defense spending.
But the measure, which the Rules panel approved on Jan. 19, doesn't specify which programs would be cut and by how much. The proposal now heads for a floor vote, which could take place during the week of Jan. 24.
The proposal, House Resolution 38, is just one paragraph long:
"Resolved, That, pursuant to section 3(b)(1) of H.Res. 5, the Chair of the Committee on the Budget shall include in the Congressional Record an allocation contemplated by section 302(a) for the Committee on Appropriations for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that assumes a transition to non-security spending at fiscal year 2008 levels."
The "security" programs expected to be exempt from the reductions include those at the Dept. of Defense and possibly the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
Although the proposed resolution has no specifics, a Jan. 19 statement from new House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) sends an ominous signal about what might be coming for non-defense accounts.
Rogers said, "This resolution is a statement...that we will move immediately to reduce spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, and that deep cuts to a host of government programs will be made."
He said, "As I have said before, it is my intention to craft the largest series of spending cuts in the history of Congress," adding that the panel "will continue this effort throughout the Appropriations process this year."
The cuts will be start to be spelled out when Rogers' committee drafts a bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. A current stopgap spending measure expires on March 4.
But House Appropriations' upcoming fiscal 2011 bill won't be the final word on budget levels for the rest of this year. The Senate, still under Democrats' control, will produce its own, probably different, appropriations measure and the two versions would have to be reconciled.