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House Cuts Budgets for Offices and Appropriations

The House agreed Thursday to a resolution that cuts all committee, leadership and Member office budgets by 5 percent and slices 9 percent off the Appropriations Committee budget.

Republicans say the resolution, which received wide bipartisan support with 410 Members voting in favor, will save $35 million in 2011. Thirteen Democrats voted against the bill.

House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren said on the floor that the resolution will cut $1 million from leadership offices, $8.1 million from committee budgets and $26.1 million from Members’ Representational Allowances.

The vote represents Republicans’ commitment to cut government spending and pay off the debt, the California Republican said. And he said he will work with House officers to identify further budget cuts.

“We are directing all House officers, such as the Clerk, the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Chief Administrative Officer, to find savings within their organizations without sacrificing their services and the excellence they pride themselves on maintaining,” Lungren said. “We look forward to hearing from these and other House offices in specificity what their cost-savings plans will be.”

The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Robert Brady, expressed support for the bill and said he hopes the cuts will be “responsible.”

“I look forward to exploring additional, responsible cost-savings opportunities with Chairman Lungren in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that we have enjoyed,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had said before he took the gavel that under his rule, the House would cut its own budget. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the GOP’s transition team.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement Wednesday that he was asking a larger cut form his panel to signify that it is “ground zero” for budget cuts in the 112th Congress.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who was a member of the GOP transition team tasked with reviewing House operations, sent a statement shortly after the vote boasting that his office was returning more than $300,000 of its roughly $1.5 million budget.

“My office will easily absorb the 5 percent cut enacted today by Congress,” the Utah Republican said. “Before these cuts were even proposed by the transition team and enacted by Congress, my office was already saving over 20 percent of our annual budget.”

Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh said on the floor that this bill shows that the newly elected GOP Members weren’t just “talking the talk.”

“We were elected this past fall to do what we said we were going to do, to lead by example,” the Illinois Republican said. “We’re taking the first step before we ask others to tighten their own belts.”

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