Hal Rogers to make case for deeper cuts to federal spending

02/13/2011 09:27 PM

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset will play a key role over the coming weeks as House Republicans make the case for double the amount of cuts to discretionary domestic spending than what the GOP budget chairman initially proposed.

The debate ramps up Monday as President Barack Obama is set to introduce his budget proposal with $1.1 trillion in cuts over the next decade, as the Washington Post reported.

Rogers, in his second month as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a statement Sunday saying the House version will include $100 billion in cuts and calling it a necessary step to slow the nation’s hemorrhaging of debt.

While his statement didn’t include the details of the spending cuts, The Christian Science Monitor reported Saturday that the proposal includes steep cuts in “environmental protection, renewable energy, transportation (including high-speed rail), housing, community health centers, border security, the Peace Corps, and Pell Grants for low-income college students”  The proposal would eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps.

And while Rogers has billed the cuts as $100 million, the total from current spending levels actually would be $61 billion because the $100 billion was subtracted from Obama’s suggested FY 2011 budget that wasn’t approved by Congress, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

That’s still nearly double the $32 billion in cuts  that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin initially proposed. Fiscal conservatives, including many newcomers to the Republican House caucus, said Ryan’s suggestion didn’t go far enough, prompting Republican House leaders — including Rogers — to take another crack at it.

Rogers said Congress must take that step because “we are now borrowing 40 cents for every dollar we spend.”

In his statement he said:

“This legislation includes the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation – over five times larger than any other discretionary cut package ever considered by the House. It cuts over $100 billion compared to the President’s request, while providing common sense exceptions for our troops and veterans.

“These were hard decisions, and I know many people will not be happy with everything we’ve proposed in this package. That’s understandable and not unexpected; this is meant to be a shared sacrifice among all Americans. Our sacrifices will not be small, and they will not be without pain. But our reward will be a nation that can survive and prosper.  We all must be a part of the solution that will ensure a better life for our children and grandchildren.”

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, repeatedly said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that that level of cuts to domestic discretionary spending was necessary. Those programs that will be affected by the cuts represent about 14% of federal spending.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said Saturday night at the Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner that everyone will have to share in the sacrifice, including those in Kentucky who are hoping for federal funding.

(Programming note: You can see highlights from the remarks of McConnell and his fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Monday night’s Pure Politics at 7 p.m. EST or 11:30 p.m. EST.)

- Ryan Alessi

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