Iowa reaction to U.S. House spending cuts

The U.S. House approved a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through September 30 by a 235 to 189 vote at 4:40 am Saturday morning. The bill contains about $61.5 billion in spending cuts; it “would kill more than 100 [federal] programs and cut funding for hundreds more.” The roll call shows remarkable party unity; all but three House Republicans voted for the bill, and every Democrat present voted against it. Iowa’s representatives voted along the usual party lines.

Much of the language in this continuing resolution will never become law. President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto the House bill, and the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate is working on its own continuing resolution with roughly $25 billion to $41 billion in spending cuts. Some signs point toward a federal government shutdown, but House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says House Republicans are not seeking that outcome. Quinn Bowman and Linda Scott further note:

To make time for the negotiations between the two chambers, yet another short term [continuing resolution] might need to be passed – which brings up another wrinkle: as time passes and the fiscal year gets shorter and shorter, Republicans set on cutting billions from the rest of the year’s budget will have a smaller pie to slice as money is spent.

Many House Democrats denounced the Republican budget cuts, but I didn’t see any of them acknowledge the failure to pass 2011 budget bills when Democrats still controlled both chambers of Congress. U.S. Senate Republicans blocked the Democratic omnibus spending bill during the lame-duck session in December, setting the stage for the current budget brinksmanship. None of these fiscal 2011 spending cuts would be on the table if Congress had passed budget bills on time last year.

After the jump I’ve posted the five Iowa House representatives’ statements on the House continuing resolution for fiscal year 2011. All include themes we are likely to hear during the 2012 Congressional campaigns. Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) embraced the principle of reducing government spending, but argued that the GOP plan would eliminate jobs here and undermine the national economic recovery. I noticed that Boswell is holding a roundtable discussion about transportation on February 22; expect him to warn of the dire consequences of proposed GOP spending cuts.

Braley’s comment on the continuing resolution warned that the proposal “will kill thousands of jobs in Iowa’s ethanol industry.” In that vein, I’ve also enclosed below his statement from February 16, touting an amendment he proposed to “safeguard the Renewable Fuel Standard.” The Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard earlier this month. Braley asserts that the continuing resolution blocks the EPA “from setting renewable fuel standards for 2012,” and industry groups are worried. House leaders ruled Braley’s amendment out of order, and Republican Tom Latham (IA-04) argued that the language prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would not affect the ethanol industry in any way. At The Iowa Republican blog, Craig Robinson says Braley “didn’t understand what he was talking about,” while Bleeding Heartland user SamuelJKirkwood claims here that Latham was misinformed or ignoring the facts. If that portion of the continuing resolution becomes law, we’ll find out later this year who was correct (either ethanol industry jobs will disappear or they won’t). Iowans are likely to hear more about this issue during the 2012 campaign, especially if the new map throws Braley and Latham into the same district.

Latham’s statement on the continuing resolution praised Congress for starting down “the road less traveled,” passing “some of the biggest spending cuts in the history of Congress.” He did some sleight of hand: “I joined a majority of my colleagues […] to vote in favor of cutting $100 billion in federal spending over the president’s funding request for the current fiscal year.” Jamie Dupree explains,

As for the budget cuts in this bill, Republicans persisted in calling this a cut of over $100 billion – but that figure is misleading, as it compares the bill’s spending levels to President Obama’s budget from last year, which was never enacted by the Congress.

It’s worth noting that Latham didn’t stand with the most ambitious House GOP axe-wielders. He was among 92 Republicans who joined Democrats to reject an amendment containing $22 billion more in cuts. Without elaborating, Latham described that proposal as “not thoughtful.” (As opposed to, say, zeroing out federal support for the Public Broadcasting Service or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change–very thoughtful!)

The statement from Republican Steve King (IA-05) focused on his own successful amendments to the continuing resolution, which prohibit the use of federal funding “to implement and enforce ObamaCare.” King has consistently been one of the loudest voices in the House for repealing or otherwise blocking the health insurance reform law approved last March. Incidentally, unlike Latham, King voted for that amendment proposing to cut an additional $22 billion from current-year spending.

I haven’t seen any statement from Senator Chuck Grassley regarding the House GOP’s spending cut plans. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin has been on a tear for days, blasting how the House continuing resolution would affect health care in Iowa, employment and training in Iowa, the Social Security Administration in Iowa, education in Iowa, and so on.

Share any thoughts about the federal budget or the political debate over spending cuts in this thread.

Bruce Braley statement of February 19:

Braley votes no on job killing, reckless Republican spending bill

Washington, DC – Congressman Bruce Braley released the following statement after the Republicans’ Continuing Resolution, the bill that will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, passed the House. The bill was approved at 4:30 am this morning by a vote of 235 to 189.

“At the darkest hour of the night House Republicans passed a reckless, job killing bill. This bill will kill thousands of jobs in Iowa’s ethanol industry, cuts housing for our Veterans and risks the economic recovery we have been on.

“Our nation’s spending must be brought under control. However, I will not support doing so on the backs of the middle class while Wall Street hedge fund managers are given a free pass.”

Braley statement of February 16:

Braley Fights to Save Iowa Jobs, Ethanol Industry

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) offered an amendment to save thousands of Iowa jobs supported by the ethanol industry. Rep. Braley introduced the amendment to safeguard the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and to make sure fuel standards could be properly set for 2012. The House Republican leadership blocked the amendment with a procedural maneuver.  

“Some 50,000 Iowa jobs depend on renewable fuels and the ethanol industry,” said Rep. Braley. “And I am deeply disappointed that my Republican colleagues would pass a budget bill that would threaten to kill off this industry and the livelihoods of thousands of families that depend on it.”

The RFS promotes clean, renewable, homegrown fuel and boosts American security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The Republican budget continuing resolution puts the RFS program at risk by preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from setting renewable fuel standards for 2012.

The American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association came out in strong support of the Braley amendment earlier today.  

Dave Loebsack statement of February 19:

Congressman Loebsack Statement on FY11 Continuing Resolution

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Loebsack issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Continuing Appropriations Act for FY 2011.

“Our country is facing great challenges that demand tough choices and serious, bipartisan work.  We must promote an economy that works for Iowa families and we must put ourselves on a fiscally responsible path. Cutting spending is one part of the solution, but at a time when so many Iowa families and businesses are still struggling, we must ensure that the choices we make do not set back our economic recovery or put our children at a competitive disadvantage, but instead pave the way for ongoing economic growth and lasting stability.

“Living within our means is part of a responsible fiscal strategy that will put our country back on track. That is why I voted to cut over $1.57 billion in unneeded funding from the bill, including eliminating Pentagon boards and commissions that the Secretary of Defense identified as unnecessary or redundant and cutting unneeded programs that are proven to be ineffective or duplicative.  I also voted to end a loophole that allows oil and gas companies to avoid paying $53 billion to US taxpayers over the life of their drilling leases and supported amendments to save the US taxpayer millions of dollars.”

“But I could not vote for indiscriminate cuts that fail to address the needs of Iowa families and businesses, harm our economic recovery, or threaten our long-term fiscal sustainability.  The bill that the House Majority passed today would make devastating cuts to education, job training, and infrastructure, and stifle research and innovation which would eliminate American jobs and jeopardize our future competitiveness.

“Iowa leads the nation in renewable energy development, which supports and creates thousands of jobs for Iowans. This bill not only cuts funding for renewable energy development, but it eliminates thousands of private-sector construction jobs and undercuts the infrastructure that businesses and farmers in Iowa need to support economic growth for our communities.

“By cutting funding to Pell grants and job training programs, this bill would make it harder for deserving students to afford the quality education Iowa colleges and universities provide and for Iowa workers to receive the education and training they need to compete in the 21st century workforce. It also threatens Iowa’s place at the forefront of innovation by cutting funding for health and scientific research that keeps Iowans healthy and supports industrial competitiveness and technological advancements.

“There is no question that tough choices need to be made to get our fiscal house in order. But instead of reckless, short-sighted cuts, Congress must come together to make thoughtful decisions that eliminate unnecessary spending and prioritize job growth, economic recovery, and the long-term fiscal health of our nation.”

Leonard Boswell statement of February 19:

Boswell Votes to Protect Iowa Jobs, Keep Economy Growing

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell released the following statement on his vote against H.R. 1.

“Today, I took a stand for every American worker, family, and company when I voted against a government spending plan that cuts jobs, decreases our economic competitiveness with other nations, endangers public safety, and puts big oil and multinational corporations ahead of small business and domestic industries,” said Boswell. “This short-sighted legislation alone would kill 9,528 good-paying transportation jobs in Iowa, remove 1,100 AmeriCorps members from our communities, rescind 212 college scholarships from Iowa students, threaten more than 150 education jobs, and strip many Iowa biotech and energy companies of valuable research and development incentives.”

“I stand behind the need to reduce government spending and tighten our belts, but we should not sacrifice jobs and economic growth in the process. The government has no business sacrificing our children’s educations, public safety jobs, or our community improvement dollars in favor of funding tax incentives for corporations that ship American jobs overseas or multibillion-dollar oil corporations. I hope that moving forward the Senate, President Obama, and the House can finally work on meaningful deficit reduction in a bipartisan way that spreads the cuts across the board and considers what departments, programs, and populations can be impacted without major consequences to our nation’s economic success. Our economy is growing, but fragile, and we must be mindful of the impact of this legislation.”

Tom Latham statement of February 21:

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives began moving down a path seldom traveled by Washington in recent years. The trillion-dollar deficits and the failed government stimulus experiments of the last few years have left our country in a dire situation that requires tough choices. Faced with this major fork in the road, the new majority in the U.S. House chose the path of fiscal sanity, restraint and job growth rather than driving the country further down the road toward financial ruin and driving our children’s and grandchildren’s hope of the American Dream off a cliff.

I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House of Representatives early Saturday morning to vote in favor of cutting $100 billion in federal spending over the president’s funding request for the current fiscal year. This measure, known as a continuing resolution, contains some of the biggest spending cuts in the history of Congress. As you may know, the reason a continuing resolution is even needed, almost half way into the fiscal year, is because Congressional Democrats in 2010 failed to legislate the appropriations bills needed each year to fund the functions of the federal government. That was the first time since the current budgetary rules were adopted in1974 that the House failed to even consider a budget resolution.

If the continuing resolution passed by the House Saturday is approved by the Senate and President Obama, it would take effect immediately and significantly reduce current spending levels. The spending binge of the last few years has sent the national debt into the stratosphere and frozen economic growth, but this continuing resolution represents a turning point in the national debate on government spending and focuses the national discussion on restoring our country’s fiscal standing.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped identify federal spending that could be cut to save tax dollars. The other committee members and I scoured the budget and weighed the costs and benefits of individual programs and agencies. Some of these cuts won’t be popular, and their impact will be felt in every congressional district across the country. But these spending reductions were necessary and long overdue. The American people expect Congress to make the tough decisions to put our economy back on track and help employers create jobs rather than to continue kicking the can of spending way beyond our means down the road. That’s exactly what this continuing resolution attempts to do. It shows a commitment to getting a handle on federal spending and the national debt, which must happen before our economy can truly start picking up steam.

Greatly contrasting with the bold actions of the House this week was the release of the president’s budget request for the next fiscal year, which makes no such commitment to fiscal responsibility. Rather, the president’s plan doubles down on the taxing, spending and borrowing that will keep a comprehensive long-term recovery from finally taking root. The White House budget would run a $1.65 trillion deficit in a single year, and it relies on another $1.6 trillion in taxes on families and businesses. In his weekly address to the nation last weekend, President Obama claimed that his budget request asks Washington to “live within its means.” Only in Washington can spending $1.65 trillion more than you have be considered spending within our means. I don’t know of a single Iowa family, farmer or small business owner who would go further into debt and call that living within their means.

A real economic recovery can’t happen until Washington gets serious about spending and the debt. I’m committed to choosing the path of fiscal responsibility, spending cuts, and smaller tax burdens to put our country on the path to prosperity and job growth and saving the hope of access to the American Dream for our children and grandchildren. The White House’s spending plan, however, will push our country down the wrong path with more debt and spending. It’s time for America to stand strong and choose the path of fiscal responsibility.

Steve King statement of February 21:

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed two amendments he introduced prohibiting the use of federal funds contained in the continuing resolution for FY 2011 to implement and enforce ObamaCare. The first King amendment, #267, prohibits any funds contained within the continuing resolution from being used to carry out ObamaCare’s provisions. As an additional fail-safe to prevent ObamaCare’s enforcement and implementation, the second King amendment, #268, prohibits any funds contained within the continuing resolution from being used to pay the salary of any officer or employee of any federal department or agency who attempts to implement ObamaCare.

“It makes no sense for federal funds to be spent on a law that Americans have rejected, that the House has voted to repeal, and that two federal courts have ruled unconstitutional,” said King. “By passing my defunding amendments, the House of Representatives has taken another important step toward uprooting the law from the U.S. Code.”

King’s amendments were added to H.R.1, the continuing resolution that provides funding for government operations. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed language King authored to repeal ObamaCare “as if such Act had not been enacted” as a component of H.R.2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.

  • Good summary of HR1 cuts to social and environmental programs

    For a good summary of the upside down thinking in HR1 see Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report: House GOP Proposal Means Fewer Children in Head Start, Less Help for Students to Attend College, Less Job Training, and Less Funding for Clean Water……

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