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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs