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Senate Panel Votes to Trim Legislative Branch Spending

The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to a draft legislative branch appropriations bill today that might result in further layoffs and furloughs around Capitol Hill and would trim the budget of the heretofore sacrosanct Capitol Police.

The bill would reduce the Senate budget by $237 million, or 5.2 percent, bringing the total budget, excluding House items, to $4.307 billion.

“These cuts are strategic and sensible, but make no mistake, they are real and will force Congress and the agencies on Capitol Hill to live with less,” subcommittee Chairman Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said. “Congress must tighten its own belt.”

The Capitol Police would be cut by 2.6 percent, or more than $28.8 million, freezing its workforce at 1,775 officers and 370 civilians, rather than the 25-officer and 10-civilian increase the department had asked for.

While other legislative agencies’ budgets have already been reduced this year, the Capitol Police have not seen a cut yet in the 112th Congress

The Library of Congress might feel the most effect from the cuts, according to a summary of the bill provided by the Appropriations Committee.

Already in the midst of offering buyouts to 10 percent of its workforce, the Library would have to cut further to reach a roughly $50 million reduction from fiscal 2011 levels.

To meet its budget of $579.2 million, the Library “will need to pursue additional cost reduction measures,” such as furloughs and layoffs, according to the bill summary.

The Architect of the Capitol would sustain cuts of more than $63 million, bringing the agency budget to about $387.5 million. It would have to reduce its salaries budget by 7 percent and defer all maintenance not directly linked to safety, fire and environmental remediation.

The Senate would take a 5.5 percent cut of more than $50 million. Leadership, committee and Senate support office budgets would be reduced by 6.3 percent, while funding for personal offices would be reduced by 3.2 percent.

The lower percentage for personal offices was because office spending was frozen in fiscal 2011 while the other offices’ budgets were reduced.

“We are stepping up as a Senate and doing the things we directly need to do to get this budget under control,” subcommittee ranking member Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said. “It’s an important step in the right direction. There’s more to do.”

The Government Printing Office budget would be reduced by more than $18 million, bringing it to $116.8 million.

The Government Accountability Office would be funded at $504.5 million, a reduction of about $41.5 million.

The Congressional Budget Office would see its funding sliced by $2.6 million, to $44.4 million.

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