April 12, 2011 -- The House Appropriations Committee early Tuesday morning revealed details of a bipartisan deal to cut the current budget, averting a shutdown of the government.
"Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation. The near $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority's commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people's money," committee Chairman Hal Rogers said in a statement.
Lawmakers from both parties said they had agreed on almost $40 billion in spending cuts for the last six months of the fiscal year. Of that amount, $12 billion in reductions had already been approved by Congress.
They also reached an accord on several issues such as keeping federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but restricting the local government of Washington, D.C., from funding abortions itself.
That deal between federal lawmakers prompted D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and several city council members to protest outside the Capitol. They were arrested by Capitol Police Monday and later released.
While the deal averted a shutdown, several departments and programs did not escape the tough cuts.
The bill eliminates two programs funded under the new health care bill (Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs).
On the education front, the bill stops students from using two Pell grant awards simultaneously – a change that is estimated to save more than $35 billion in the next decade.
The deal also cuts all Defense earmark funding which includes the JSF engine by $4.2 billion from last year.
The deal reduced funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by $1.6 billion.
New funding for the Department of Transportation's high speed rail was slashed and $400 million in last year's funds were rescinded.
Treasury and executive of the president accounts along with new federal buildings construction has been cut by more than $800 million.
U.S. House of Representatives funding has been slashed by $55 million from the previous year.
But NASA will get $18.5 billion and funding for a new exploration program.
Other highlights of the deal include a provision that prevents Guantanamo Bay detainees from being moved to the U.S.
Passing the Deal
As part of the deal, Republicans will force Democrats to hold two politically-charged votes in the Senate in the coming days. The Senate will vote on defunding Planned Parenthood and on defunding the administration's health care bill, but since both measures will need 60 votes to advance in the Democrat-controlled Senate, neither is expected to pass.
"This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history," President Obama said late Friday after the deal was announced. "Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them. And I certainly did that."
"Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful," he said. "Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances. But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs -- investments in our kids' education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future."
Now that the bipartisan budget deal has been struck, both houses of Congress must pass it by the time the latest short-term bill runs out at the end of Friday.