News / USA

    US Lawmakers Urge Talks to Cap Early Spending

    FILE - The Senate (R) and the Capitol Dome are seen in Washington.
    FILE - The Senate (R) and the Capitol Dome are seen in Washington.
    Reuters
    A senior U.S. Senate Democrat and a high-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives urged congressional budget negotiators on Thursday to agree on a 2014 spending level by November 22 - even if they have not yet figured out how to achieve any required savings.
     
    Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said identifying a cap on discretionary spending was their top priority as talks to reduce automatic, “sequester” spending cuts began this week.
     
    The sooner that number is determined, the better the chance that lawmakers can pass new spending legislation in time to avoid another government shutdown threat on January 15, they said in a letter to the leaders of the negotiating panel.
     
    Deciding quickly on a spending level would provide budget negotiators with an early target for the size of any potential deal. They would then have to find savings to replace that amount of sequester cuts.
     
    “We believe that if an agreement on a discretionary spending number can be reached early, it will allow for more thoughtful and responsible spending decisions, set the parameters for the budgetary savings that need to be reached in your budget conference, and build momentum for a larger budget agreement,” said Mikulski, who represents Maryland, and Rogers, from Kentucky. Neither is on the budget negotiating panel.
     
    They asked the panel to decide on spending caps “no later than December 2 and preferably November 22,” prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
     
    That would provide the House and Senate appropriations committees more time to allocate funds among the military, federal agencies and discretionary programs ranging from education to national parks. The process broke down before the October 1 start of the current fiscal year because of arguments over how to distribute deep sequester spending cuts.
     
    The budget panel, commissioned under this month's deal to end a government shutdown, met for the first time on Wednesday. It is not scheduled to meet again until November 13, as the House is on recess next week.
     
    Current spending authority expires on January 15, and without new legislation, federal agencies would be forced to close again

    'Pick up the pace'
     
    Responding to the letter, Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen, a negotiating panel member, said, “Replacing the job-killing sequester and adopting top line budget numbers should be a key priority of the budget negotiations.
     
    “The Conference Committee should pick up the pace of the negotiations so we can get an agreement by Thanksgiving [November 28] and give the Appropriations Committees time to do their work,” Van Hollen said in a statement.
     
    The so-called budget conference committee is working to find alternative budget savings to replace all or part of $109 billion in 2014 sequester cuts - about $91 billion of which hits discretionary spending.
     
    More than half those cuts would fall on the U.S. military and national security programs. Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has warned that the cuts, if left in place, would cause some counterterrorism operations to be shut down, putting U.S. national security at risk.
     
    The defense cuts, which total about $20 billion more in 2014 than in 2013, could prove a motivator for more moderate Republicans to find alternative savings. Some conservative Republicans allied with the Tea Party movement have argued for  keeping the sequester cuts in place, defense cuts and all.

    You May Like

    Brexit Vote Triggers Increase in Racist Attacks

    Britain's decision to leave European Union seen by some as 'permission' to unleash anti-immigrant resentment

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    AIIB Takes Big Strides Amid Fears About China's Dominance

    Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says it is independent, but concerns persist; China holds 20.6 percent of bank's shares, others have less than 7.5 percent each

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora