House GOP leaders filed a $915 billion spending package. The bundle of three appropriations bills would boost government spending by over $5 billion next year with a heavy focus on defense spending. The House could vote on the massive package as early as Friday morning.
The largest bill would provide funding for federal agencies that would have been covered by nine appropriations bills that never made it to the floor of either the House or the Senate. The second includes $8.1 billion in disaster funding and the third proposes paying for that disaster aid with a 1.83 percent across-the-board cut to all discretionary spending outside of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Here are the highlights:
In a sea of budget cutting and belt tightening, military pay and benefits were some of the only areas where appropriators proposed higher funding. The Defense Department would receive $518.1 billion under this proposal, up $5.1 billion over last year, though $20.8 billion less than President Obama requested.
The top five most expensive line items were all defense and veteran related:
*Defense Operations and Maintenance: $163.1 billion. As in years past, base operation, facility maintenance and readiness remained the single most expensive element of the enormous defense budget. Even though appropriators would cut $2.5 billion from current levels, this single section still far outpaced the cost of funding the day-to-day costs of the wars.
*Military Personnel and Pay: $131.1 billion. The $4.4 billion boost would cover both active duty and reserve troops and reflects a 1.6 percent military pay raise requested by President Obama.
*Veterans Affairs: $122.2 billion. The discretionary funding side of the bill would include $58 billion, a $2.1 billion increase from 2011. The cuts to military construction would quickly outpace the increases to the funding for veterans.
*Overseas Contingency Funds: $115 billion. These hotly debated funds have been a popular budget cutting target for Democrats looking for ways to fund big-ticket budget items. Many insist that the huge coffer should be drastically reduced to reflect the drawdown in Iraq.
*Ongoing Military Operations: $115.1 billion. The bill would trim $43 billion from the previous year budget, falling $2.8 billion shy of President Obama's budget request for 2012.
*Energy and Water: $32 billion. Lawmakers would cut $4.5 from President Obama's budget proposal for energy and water programs but the budget still reflects a $328 million budget increase from last year to combat fears over access to foreign oil.
*Nuclear Energy Research: $769 million. Any budget area with a “million” instead of a “billion” may seem small but appropriators would give nuclear research a hefty $43 million boost. The change reflects concerns over the future of safe, economical power the nuclear energy could provide.
*Financial Services: $21.5 billion. Despite the ongoing economic ripples of the financial crisis, the agencies that regulate and monitor the banking industry would see a budget cut of $222 million. That's more than $4 billion less than what President Obama requested.
*Treasury Department: $12.2 billion. Timothy Geithner's team would see its budget slashed by $882 million.
*Homeland Security: $39.6 billion. The Defense Department may see generous increases but Homeland Security would lose about $2 billion in funds as compared to last year through cuts to what appropriators called “lower priority programs”--including grants FEMA first responders.
*U.S. Customs and Border Protection: $11.7 billion. Budget cuts aside, border protection would get a $362 million hike.
*Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $5.9 billion. The team that cracks down on illegal immigration would see a $50 million budget increase. The funding would also cover a huge increase in detention facilities by adding 34,000 new beds.
*Environmental Protection Agency: $8.4 billion. The $223 million cut proposed reflects Republicans' ongoing quest to reduce the power of the regulatory agency. The bill report boasted that EPA funds have been reduced by $1.8 billion, or a net decrease of more than 18 percent, in 2011.
*Department of Education: $71.3 billion. Much of the $153 million cut in education funds would come from slashing dollars from President Obama's Race to the Top initiative.
*State and Foreign Operations: $42.1 billion. The legislation would include a $6 billion cut to international operations despite the inclusion of $11.2 billion for civilian efforts related to the contentious Overseas Contingency Operations.
*Bilateral and Multilateral Assistance: $21.3 billion. The $2.2 billion cut would come from reductions in “low-priority programs and countries” not outlined in the legislation.
*State Department Operations and Related Agencies: $13.2 billion. Non-military foreign operations have been an ongoing target of budget hawks in the House. The legislation would slash $2.6 billion from the State Department discretionary fund.
Katy O'Donnell contributed.
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