House Budget Chairman Announces $74 Billion in Cuts for Remainder of FY 2011; Fears of Government Shutdown on the Rise
Yesterday, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced that House Republicans intend to slash $74 billion dollars from the federal budget in the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. Though a detailed proposal will not be released until February 14th, sources suggest $32-$40 billion of these cuts will come from agency budgets over the next few months.
Exempting the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, these cuts will force many other federal agencies to cut 20 percent of their budgets virtually overnight, according to the Washington Post. A document released yesterday by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) shows that some agencies will take more of a hit than others. Parts of the United States Department of Agriculture are poised to take 13% percent in budget reductions, and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation will take a total of 18%. Other targeted areas are the Departments of Interior, Commerce, and Justice, among others.
“If these cuts are enacted, it will have a devastating impact on federal agencies,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “Agencies are low on resources as it is, and such misguided cuts could mean the end of many important services the American people count on.”
Democrats immediately positioned themselves against the GOP proposal, arguing that debate could lead to a government shutdown:
“One thing we can’t do is take extreme steps like shutting down the government and forcing the United States government to default on its obligations,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a press conference yesterday. “A default would mean so many negative things: the course of Social Security, the security of our nation, the border, the funding of our troops all over the world and here at home… Middle class Americans can’t afford an extreme step that would send us back into a bigger crisis than we’ve ever had before.”
If Democrats and Republicans cannot reach an agreement to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year by March 4th, the government will be forced to shut down. This would be devastating for federal employees, forcing all civil servants to remain at home without a paycheck while our elected officials bicker over poorly conceived spending reductions.
“We cannot allow Congress to hold our jobs hostage while they play politics with the federal budget,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “The American people count on us to be there to provide vital services to our veterans, our seniors, and our armed forces. We will do everything we can to ensure that we will still be there on March 4th.”