January 8, 2011

January 8, 2011
Budget Cuts in Washington, DC

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope your weekend is off to a safe and great start. It is going to be a nice and relaxing one for Dab the AIDS Bear and me. Since it is our only weekend off this month, we are going to enjoy it. Besides working out, we are going to be lazy, spend time with our four legged children and catch up on our rest.

I was reading some interesting news coming out of Washington, DC concerning budget cuts.

All House committees will see their budgets cut this year, but the House Appropriations Committee is getting special treatment. It will take a cut almost twice as big as that of other panels.

As promised by Republican leaders, internal cost-cutting will be the first order of legislative business for the House after it adopts a rules package on Wednesday. The House will vote Thursday on a resolution to reduce its own spending after a public reading of the Constitution.

Overall, the resolution will save $35.2 million through the end of fiscal 2011, according to Republican aides. The majority of savings $26.1 million will come from cuts to the expense accounts of individual members, while $8.1 million in reductions will come from committees and $1 million will be taken from leadership offices.

In a statement Tuesday, incoming Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said that the cuts are meant to reverse Washington’s job killing spending binge, adding that sacrifices will be required throughout the federal government, and we’re starting with ourselves.

Notably, it appears the budget cuts will be applied evenly at a rate of 5 percent, with the exception of the Appropriations Committee, which will see a 9 percent reduction below its 2010 operating level.

Normally a plum assignment, Appropriations will be a different and more controversial panel as Republicans seek to make deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending.

Republican appropriators are working to change the image of the committee from one that distributes federal largess to one that cuts federal spending.

Incoming Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., claimed responsibility for the 9 percent cut. “This year, the Appropriations Committee will be ground zero for a wide range of reductions across the federal government, and by cutting our own budget first, we are showing we are willing to lead by example,” he said in a statement.

Cost cutting for committees will come largely from staff budgets, perhaps made somewhat easier by the fact that most panels will have fewer members than they have for many years. According to preliminary estimates from Republican aides, there will be 785 total committee positions, down from 869 seats in the 111th Congress.

The Appropriations Committee is likely to be reduced from 60 seats to 50, with 29 slots reserved for Republicans.

Committee ratios have yet to be finalized, as Democrats hold out hope for boosting their own numbers. At a Tuesday afternoon caucus meeting, Democrats were expected to confirm their roster for the Rules Committee but no other panels.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said Democrats were still working out their membership roster on Appropriations, and may not complete work on it this week.

Wasserman Schultz, who chaired the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee in the outgoing Congress, said she did not know if she would be a member of the full committee in the 112th Congress. She recently assumed a new job as a vice chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

So the next few months are going to be interesting as we watch our elected officials positioning themselves to get approval of the voters back in their districts.

Hope you have a great weekend. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab