House Republicans on the morning of Feb. 19 passed a spending bill that has many minority Congressmen crying foul and sets the stage for a battle with Democrats and the White House that could wind up with a shutdown of government operations.
H.R. 1 would cut $61 billion in government spending, including funding for key programs according to some Democrats on Capitol Hill.
“The Continuing Resolution put forth by House Republicans is a terrible blow to all Americans,” Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said in a statement. “The drastic cuts in this bill would cost 55,000 teachers their jobs, drop 218,000 students from critical Head Start programs, eliminate life-saving health services for 5 million low-income women, and reduce Pell Grants for 9.4 million students across the country.”
The bill, pushed by Tea Party-backed freshmen Congressmen, deepens the rift between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. If passed by the Senate, the bill would block the health care reform law passed last year, remove regulation for Internet providers, cut food assistance to the poor and slash money for community health centers.
In the mid-Atlantic region, Edwards said the bill would cut $80 million from the federal payment to D.C., slash $150 million from the federal payment to the regional transit system, reduce the federal workforce and reduce funding for environmental efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Although we recognize that every dollar we cut has a constituency of support—an association, an industry and individual citizens—who will disagree with our decision, these cuts are the result of difficult work by our subcommittees to make the smartest and fairest reductions possible,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R- Ky.), said in a statement. “No stones were left unturned and no programs were held sacred.”
Democrats are vowing to fight the bill, saying they don’t want their constituents handcuffed by what they believe is a conservative agenda.
“As we leave behind the worst recession in generations, we remain committed to working with President Barack Obama to rebuild our economy and win the future for generations to come,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) said in a statement. “The Congressional Black Caucus is also committed to responsibly reducing the deficit by working to eliminate waste, while ensuring that we continue to invest in our children’s future, American innovation, and rebuilding this great nation.”
The odds of the bill being signed into law as it is currently constructed are virtually nonexistent. It has to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate before it gets to President Obama, who has warned of vetoing a bill with severe cuts. The two sides have until Mar. 4 to reach a consensus on the budget, the day when a temporary bill to fund government-wide operations runs out. If that does not happen, another temporary measure will be needed, or government operations may shut down until a compromise is reached.