House Republican Leaders’ FY11 Budget Proposal Cuts $32B In Spending

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday released a fiscal year 2011 spending proposal that would “slice more than $32 billion from agency budgets over the next few months,” the Washington Post reports (Montgomery, 2/3). The proposal “could mean big reductions for virtually all federal agencies other than the Pentagon,” according to the Wall Street Journal (Hook/Boles, 2/4).

The proposal – which “would cap spending at $1.055 trillion” – “represents a $58 billion reduction below President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2011 budget request of $478 billion for non-security programs,” CQ writes. “Overall, the allocation would cut combined security and non-security discretionary spending by $74 billion below Obama’s fiscal 2011 request,” the publication adds. The budget allocation enables House GOP appropriators “to write a stopgap funding measure to pay for the last seven months of fiscal 2011 after a continuing resolution expires March 4” (Krawzak, 2/3).

“Washington’s spending spree is over,” Ryan said in a press release announcing the budget proposal, the Washington Post writes. “House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), who is in charge of drafting the spending measure, said Thursday that the cuts would fall most heavily” on some domestic programs. “Labor, health and education programs would face much smaller reductions, as would state and foreign operations,” the newspaper reports (2/4). According to a Wall Street Journal graphic, the State Department and foreign aid budget would be reduced by 4% to $47 billion. Rogers said, “These cuts will not be easy, they will be broad and deep, they will affect every congressional district,” the newspaper reports.

For the cuts to take effect, the “bill must also clear the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority and are unlikely to cut spending as deeply,” the newspaper writes. “Democrats warn that if Republicans refuse to compromise, there is the risk of a government shutdown. But GOP leaders say they don’t expect the situation to come to that. If a compromise isn’t reached by March 4, another short-term funding bill is expected to be passed” (2/4).

U.S. Lawmakers Continue To Debate U.S. Aid Strategy For Egypt

“U.S. lawmakers are divided on whether to halt foreign aid to Egypt as a way to hasten President Hosni Mubarak’s exit from power amid continuing protests against his three-decade rule,” Bloomberg writes in a story noting members of Congress’ positions on U.S. aid to Egypt (Davis, 2/4).

“In an interview Wednesday night with MSNBC, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee, which oversees the State Department and international programs, said the U.S. should not continue to send money to Egypt with Mubarak in charge,” according to The Hill’s “Blog Briefing Room.”

“We have a lot of aid in the pipeline now, that pipeline would be turned off,” Leahy said. “There is nobody, Republican or Democratic in the Senate and I suspect in the House, that’s going to vote for an aid package for Egypt under these circumstances,” he said (Strauss, 2/3). “Texas Republican Kay Granger, Leahy’s counterpart on the House Appropriations Committee, is standing by her Monday statement in which she urged caution when discussing Egypt aid. ‘It is critical that we are deliberate about the actions we take,’ she said,” CQ reports (Cadei, 2/3). Meanwhile, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a “liberal House Democrat,” sent a letter to Obama asking that aid to Egypt be cut off unless Mubarak “takes immediate steps to install a democratically elected replacement,” The Hill’s “Blog Briefing Room” reports. Doggett said Mubarak should not get “one more cent of American money until he begins the peaceful, orderly transition to a democratically elected government today” (Lillis, 2/3). 

Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” reports: “House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) will bring two top national security officials to Capitol Hill next week to testify on the administration’s policy concerning Egypt, and its implications for the escalating crisis there. … Ros-Lehtinen, who has already pledged to examine cutting aid to countries that don’t support U.S. interests, called this week for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go further than his promise not to run for president again in September” (Rogin, 2/3).

In related news, the Boston Globe reports on the views of some experts and civilians who think U.S. aid to Egypt should focus more on development projects rather than the military. “United States taxpayers have funneled more than $60 billion of aid into Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, but more than half of the money has been spent supplying weapons to the country’s military, an arrangement that critics say has benefited American military contractors more than ordinary Egyptians,” the newspaper writes.

According to the article, “in recent years the large amount of aid earmarked for the military, and the relatively low sums supporting civilian aid, have attracted scathing criticism from Egyptians, some of whom argue that U.S. aid has gone to entrench a military dictator at the expense of the fledgling democracy activists” (Stockman, 2/3).

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