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News Roundup: House Pledges Major Cuts, While President Threatens Veto; Ag and Defense Bills Introduced

Late last month, the House appropriations committee adopted 302(b) subcommittee allocations (PDF), which govern spending levels for each of the twelve appropriations bills. As this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes clear, several spending areas would suffer major reductions under the House plan, below even sequestration levels. Specifically, the Energy and Water bill, which governs the Department of Energy Office of Science, would receive a 10 percent reduction below sequester levels; the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill, which governs National Institutes of Health funding, would receive an 18.6 percent reduction below sequester levels; and the Interior and Environment bill, which governs EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey, among other agencies, would receive a 14 percent cut. The allocations are much friendly to defense-related spending, and fall along similar lines as the House budget resolution (prior AAAS estimates here). Indeed, the House allocations would allow defense spending to rebound above sequester levels.

The House has also formally adopted the GOP budget to guide appropriations decisions, effectively locking in sequestration-level spending for the lower chamber, and further ensuring a challenging appropriations environment later in the year, when House and Senate members will have to resolve differences in spending bill-by-bill. Roughly $90 billion separates the two parties, and Republicans have resisted a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate budgets. The President has threatened to veto any spending bills that abide by the lower House-adopted spending levels, reprising his threat from last year.

Finally, House appropriators have released their draft FY 2014 Defense and Agriculture spending bills. In very general terms the Defense bill would cut Department of Defense R&D below the President’s request but increase it above sequester levels, while many Agriculture programs would remain at post-sequester spending.