Lawmakers Await Details of Compromise Spending Bill

Posted April 10, 2011 at 10:46am

Updated: 12:22 p.m.

A government shutdown was narrowly averted early Saturday morning, but the battle over fiscal 2011 funding isn’t yet over for Congress.

Congress passed a weeklong stopgap measure that expires Friday, giving lawmakers this week to consider and vote on a compromise spending package for the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But as several lawmakers pointed out on the Sunday morning news shows, the details of that compromise, which would cut about $38 billion from spending levels set earlier this year, have yet to trickle out.

“They’re still sifting through the areas where they are going to make cuts,” House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen said on ABC’s “This Week.” “You can’t find anybody today, actually, who knows exactly what cuts we’re proposing until probably the end of the day today, maybe early [this] week. So I’m going to reserve judgment” on the compromise bill.

However, the Maryland Democrat said he believed the bill would receive enough support to pass.

About half of the cuts come from areas other than domestic discretionary spending, which House Republicans had focused on, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” But the New Yorker wouldn’t get more specific. “The cuts are across the board. Everybody gives some pain,” he said. “And we don’t have the specific details yet. They’re going to be published on Monday. And I’m not going to get into any of the specific details until then.

“There are broad outlines. This much is coming from defense; this much is coming from agriculture; this much is coming from, let’s say, [the Department of Health and Human Services]. But as for the specifics, those are going to be published on Monday. And we’ve agreed not to say anything before then,” Schumer added.

Rep. Mike Pence, who vowed during the spending debate to shut down the government if Democrats rejected deep cuts, suggested that the compromise would not be enough to win him over. “I want to see the details. But from what I know, it sounds like [Speaker] John Boehner got a good deal. Probably not good enough for me to support it, but a good deal nonetheless,” the Indiana Republican said during an appearance with Van Hollen on “This Week.”

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) also sought to walk the line between support for Boehner (R-Ohio) and disappointment that the cuts weren’t deeper.

“I share the disappointment of my colleagues,” Hensarling said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, on the one hand this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget. … Probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress. Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered. I mean, $38 billion of savings. In February the deficit alone was over $200 billion. It is the shortest month of the year.”

On the other end of the spectrum, White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe was repeatedly pressed Sunday about whether President Barack Obama conceded too much to Republican demands for spending cuts that the administration had previously called draconian.

“Some of the cuts were draconian, because it’s not just the number, it’s what composes the number,” he said on “This Week.” “So in this budget deal … we protected medical research, community health centers, kids on Head Start. We were not going to sign off on a deal that cut those things. So the president was comfortable with the composition of this deal. That, again, you know, there were some tough cuts in there, things he believes in. But in these fiscal times everyone is going to have to make tough decisions.”

Plouffe, who served as Obama’s campaign manager in the 2008 presidential election, made the talk show rounds Sunday, also appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”