What a difference a few short months -- and an election -- can make.
Prior to the historic November 2010 election results we heard President Obama and the previous Congress talking about how much money they could spend. Who would have imagined the President and your representatives on Capitol Hill would be talking about how much money they could cut? It's happening -- not as quickly as many of us would like -- but it is happening!
The House of Representatives has passed a bill to fund the federal government for the remaining months of the 2011 fiscal year that ends September 30th. While I'm disappointed we couldn't convince the Senate and the President to agree to more, it does cut nearly $40 billion in wasteful government spending. Significantly, that makes it the largest non-defense spending cut in American history. It also provides essential funding for national defense, a priority of mine and the 4th Congressional District.
While approval of this measure allows us to focus on the 2012 budget and cutting trillions instead of billions in spending, it is only a start -- one small step in the right direction. But it will clear the deck for that all-important 2012 budget debate. I'm looking forward to beginning that discussion to save trillions of taxpayer dollars.
More about the 2012 plan later. For now, let's take a look at what provisions were included in the bill we passed this week:
In addition to trimming almost $40 billion from the budget it puts the brakes on the funding for some controversial programs and ideas. This spending plan puts an end to any proposal to take Guantanamo Bay terrorist suspects and transfer them to the United States for any reason. It also puts the brakes on any discussion of building any new prisons in the U.S. to house these suspected evil-doers. Rest assured, these people will not be posing a danger to you or your family as they'll be safely locked-up at Guantanamo in a facility built specifically for the purpose of detaining them.
This Continuing Resolution also prohibits funding for the establishment of a Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After enduring a long and cold winter, most 4th District Missourians don't want to see their tax dollars sunk into research on global warming. The legislation also eliminates the position of Climate Change Czar as well as the positions of Health Care Czar, Car Czar, and Urban Affairs Czar. If President Obama wants cabinet-level appointees they should have to go through the same scrutiny as others who are chosen to serve in high level positions in any presidential administration.
The provision cuts funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by $1.6 billion, a 16 percent decrease from last year's level. A chunk of the EPA's annual budget centers on climate change. H.R. 1473 slices $49 million that had been set aside for studying climate change. It also lowers funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by a combined $25 million from last year's levels.
Most Americans -- pro-life or pro-choice - reject the notion that taxpayers should provide funding for abortion. This 2011 budget plan restores a long-standing provision against the use of federal and local funds for abortions in Washington, D.C.
In all, the Continuing Resolution terminates or reduces funding for dozens of programs, including a number of pie-in-the-sky proposals put forward by the Obama Administration. The bill eliminates new funding for High Speed Rail and takes back $400 million in previous year funds for a total reduction of $2.9 billion from levels established during the 2010 fiscal year.
Internationally, the House plan includes a prohibition on pay raises for foreign service officers, a $377 million cut to U.S. contributions to the United Nations and international organizations, and a $130 million cut to international banks and financial institutions. The bill also reduces funding for activities which can