House, Senate Leaders Continue Negotiations On FY11 Budget; Global Health Advocates Protest Spending Cuts

Federal budget negotiations continued on Thursday, “as Senate Democrats looked for targets for cuts in the remaining months of fiscal 2011 and House Republicans appeared ready to unveil a stopgap plan that would make deep reductions over the next two weeks,” CQ reports.

A Senate Democratic aide said that Senate Democrats are looking at President Obama’s FY12 budget proposal in an effort to identify areas of the FY11 budget that can be reduced (Young/Friel, 2/24). “Republicans welcomed the decision by Senate Democrats to abandon their previous stand against cuts of any kind in the current fiscal year while noting that the two parties remain far apart,” the Washington Post writes.

Meanwhile House leaders are working on a “stopgap measure [for FY11] that would keep the government open through March 18” and could cut about $4 billion from the budget, the newspaper writes. “Those proposed cuts, which Republicans expect to outline Friday, are designed to be relatively noncontroversial, GOP aides said, with many lifted directly from Obama’s wish list for reducing spending,” according to the Post. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “plans to push the bill through the House early next week and send it on to the Senate, where many moderate Democrats are facing difficult reelection campaigns next year and want to avoid getting tagged with a big-spender label” (Montgomery/Kane, 2/24).

Global Health Advocates Protest Funding Cuts At House Majority Leader Event

HIV/AIDS advocates and other opponents of the House FY11 budget proposal “faced off” with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who spoke at Harvard University on Thursday, The Hill reports. Cantor said budget cuts were a “necessary ‘tradeoff’ in tight fiscal times,” the newspaper writes (Berman, 2/24).

“Several hundred protested outside the event against plans for cuts to Teach for America, global health initiatives … among many other programs. Inside the forum, a group of students briefly interrupted Cantor’s question and answer session, unfurling a large banner that read ‘Fully Fund Global Health’ and chanting ‘Budget Cuts Kill!,'” Reuters reports (Krasny, 2/24).

In response to a question about “sav[ing] one million lives” by restoring $1.5 billion in global AIDS funding, Cantor said, “This is about trade offs. This is about that we don’t have the money. We just don’t,” The Hill reports (2/24).

Members of the national Student Global AIDS Campaign from Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, The New School, Wellesley and Yale, “as well as representatives from community groups and people living with AIDS from around the northeast,” came together for the protest, the Washington Post’s “2chambers” blog reports (Sonmez, 2/24).