February 11, 2011
Last week we reported that House Republican leaders had announced their intention to produce an appropriations bill to cover the last half of Fiscal Year 2011 that would cut domestic programs by $40 billion, while increasing the defense budget, for a net deficit reduction of approximately $32 billion. Agriculture was to take a 14 percent ($3.2 billion) cut.
This week, the House Republican appropriators worked on producing the detailed bill that would meet these spending goals, a bill that was scheduled to be released on Thursday. However, the leadership faced a revolt by the deficit hawk wing of its rank and file. After a meeting of the party caucus, the House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced that an additional $26 billion in domestic spending cuts would be found, bringing the total cut to $58 billion. As a result of the sudden change in plans, the bill was not released Thursday and no announcement has been made about when it will see the light of day. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) nonetheless has said the bill will be voted on in the House next week.
Prior to the revolt, on Wednesday, February 9, House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) issued a press release that profiled some of the major cuts that would be included in the bill. For agriculture, the cuts included $758 million from the WIC feeding program, $544 million from international food aid, $246 million from agricultural research, $237 million from rural development programs, $220 million from the Food and Drug Administration, $201 million from the Farm Service Agency, $53 million from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and $46 million from the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
These figures are in relation to the level of funding requested by the President for FY 11, not the actual funding levels contained in the current short-term continuing resolution that controls current spending. Hence the actual cut below current levels is less than the numbers used by Rogers in the press release.
In the case of parts of the agricultural appropriations budget that have climbed steeply in recent years, such as WIC and food safety, the proposed cuts would effectively eliminate a portion of those recent increases. In contrast, for areas of the budget that have been stagnant, such as agricultural research or rural development, the proposed cuts would be particularly deep.
The specific details of what programs in particular get cut and which get spared will not be known until the draft bill is released. We expect that to happen very late Friday night or at some point over the weekend.
On Monday, President Obama releases his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012, and two days later, the House will consider the Fiscal Year 2011 bill on the floor. After the week-long President’s Day recess, the Senate will propose a short-term extension of the current Continuing Resolution to allow it time to consider the House bill and then go to conference with the House. Looming in the background will be the possibility of a government shut down if agreements cannot be reached.
Categories: Budget and Appropriations