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McConnell, GOP Senators Side With Democrats on Spending Limits

The top Senate Republican agreed today to stick with a spending cap set in the August debt limit law, putting him at odds with House GOP leaders.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) joined Democrats and all but two GOP appropriators in setting total discretionary spending for fiscal 2013 at $1.047 trillion, the limit established under the Budget Control Act.

McConnell, who has kept his seat on the Appropriations Committee, did not attend today’s markup, but he gave his permission for ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to give his aye by proxy on the vote.

Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) voted against the budgetary caps, which are up slightly from the current fiscal year’s overall $1.043 trillion level.

The committee’s 27-2 vote also determined how the overall spending level would be divided among the 12 fiscal 2013 appropriations bills. The appropriators agreed to the following allocations: Agriculture, rural development, and Food and Drug Administration $20.8 billion; Commerce, Justice and science $51.9 billion; Defense $511.2 billion; Energy and water development $33.4 billion; financial services and general government $23 billion; Homeland Security $39.5 billion; Interior and environment $29.7 billion; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education $157.7 billion; legislative branch $4.4 billion; military construction and Veterans Affairs $72.2 billion; State and foreign operations $49.8 billion; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development $53.4 billion.

House appropriators are expected to endorse lower allocations, known informally as 302(b)s, based on the $1.028 trillion discretionary spending level outlined in the House budget resolution. They are expected to vote on the caps next week.

Cochran praised House Republicans for their cost-cutting effort, but acknowledged that the $1.047 trillion cap has been set in law. It is “appropriate” to proceed with it, he said.

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