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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs