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GOP Targets Transportation and Housing For the Deepest Cuts

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday gave a glimpse into their plans to cut spending as promised. Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) set spending ceilings each of the 12 Appropriations subcommittees, cutting the budget for the Transportation and HUD Subcommittee by 17 percent, or $11.6 billion.

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It is, by far, the most dramatic of all the cuts. The cuts to Agriculture and Financial Services Committees come in second and third at 14 and 13 percent, respectively.

The cuts come in tandem with House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that overall spending will have to drop to $1.055 trillion for the rest of 2011.

Still, Republicans are having a harder time than they expected cutting $100 billion from the budget, in accordance with their Pledge to America. In the end, they've cut just $32 billion from 2010 levels and have a way to go before hitting their mark of returning to 2008 levels. Meanwhile, they’ve added $9.5 billion for defense and homeland security spending.

All over Washington, people are obsessing over deficit reduction. White House Budget Director Jacob Lew met with Senate Democrats to preview the president's budget proposal and get their suggestions for deficit reduction. Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is hosting a series of closed-door party meetings on the issue. President Obama has held firm to his promise to hold most domestic spending at 2010 levels, including a wage freeze for federal workers.

New House rules give Rep. Ryan unprecedented powers to set spending ceilings, and his announcement triggered the deep cuts at the Appropriations level. The only subcommittee facing cuts all the way to 2008 levels is Energy and Water Development, according to Politico. The State Department’s budget is being cut by 17 percent, despite international crises from Egypt to Haiti.

It’ll all come together next week when the full Appropriations Committee releases its own version of a FY2011 budget to finish out the year. Until now, they’ve been coasting along on an extension of last year’s budget, with the same number frozen in place. That extension is due to expire March 4, but Senate leaders are already saying that deadline is impossible and will require stopgap extensions before they can pass a budget.

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