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Labor-HHS, T-HUD Bills to Bear Brunt of Spending Cuts

Two subcommittees will absorb more than half of the $19 billion in discretionary spending cuts that House appropriators must identify for fiscal 2013, portending a rocky future for the bills.

The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill and the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill will be cut by a combined $10 billion, while some other spending bills will see increases or remain steady, according to draft subcommittee allocations obtained by Roll Call.

The allocations, also called 302(b)s, seem to indicate that Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and his cardinals are trying to frontload some bills, while taking the bulk of the cuts from other measures that stand less of a chance of passing.

The Labor-HHS bill was a particular problem last year because Democrats objected to cuts to President Barack Obama’s health insurance reform law while some Republicans did not like the overall funding level. This year, it will be funded at about $150 billion, down from its current level of $156.3 billion. Many of the cuts are likely to come from the health care law again.

The T-HUD bill will receive a $51.6 billion allocation, down from $55.6 billion. The level could put a pinch on sweeping transportation legislation that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is trying to pass and that conservatives believe spends too much.

Some House conservatives have said they are wary of a frontloading strategy, and Obama has threatened to veto bills if they underfund some programs to make up for increases elsewhere.

The full slate of funding levels will be announced during a Wednesday full Appropriations Committee hearing.

Though the topline number conforms to the $1.028 trillion House-passed budget — down from current levels of $1.043 trillion and lower than last year’s debt limit agreement of $1.047 trillion — two subcommittees will receive a spike in funding and several will maintain current spending levels.

Appropriators have already announced a roughly $100 million increase in the Energy and water development bill, which will receive $32.1 billion, and the Defense spending bill will also get a roughly $1 billion bump to $519.2 billion.

In addition, Overseas Contingency Operations run by the Defense Department are down from $115 billion to more than $88 billion.

The military construction and Veterans Affairs bill will remain at $71.7 billion, and the legislative branch appropriations will stay at about $4.3 billion.

The State and foreign operations bill will be cut to $40.1 billion, down from $42.1 billion. Much of the savings are likely from drawing back foreign aid.

“You have to realize there are difficult times ahead, and why are we giving money to these places in the world?” Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), an appropriator, said last week, explaining why that bill would be cut.

Also, the Overseas Contingency Operations managed by the State Department would be cut from $11.2 billion to $8.2 billion.

Likewise, the Interior and environment bill will be sliced to $28 billion, down from $29.2 billion. Much of the cuts are expected to come from the Environmental Protection Agency, as they did last year.

The financial services and general government bill will be funded at $21.2 billion, a cut of $350 million. The recent scandal at the General Services Administration, which the panel oversees, presents an opportunity to find many of the cuts there, sources said.

The Agriculture, rural development and Food and Drug Administration allocation is down about $400 million, to a total of $19.405 billion.

And finally, as the panel already announced, the Commerce, Justice and science bill is funded at $51.131 billion, down from $52.7 billion.

Correction: April 24, 2012

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the funding increase for the Energy and water development spending bill. It will receive a $100 million increase.

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