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House panel clears its measure in party-line vote; Senate to take up its approach next week.
Major funding and policy differences are evident among the Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolutions of the House and Senate.
The House Budget Committee late Wednesday backed a $4.6 trillion, 10-year plan from Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) via a party-line vote. The plan would balance the budget, cut domestic programs, repeal the 2010 health care law, replacing it with a voucher-like model beginning in 2024, and overhaul the tax code. Ryan's plan recommends more than $4 trillion in spending cuts on top of the deficit reduction achieved by keeping the sequester in place. All Democratic proposed amendments were defeated, including one from ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland that would have replaced one year of the sequester with a mix of spending reductions and revenue increases.
The Senate Democrats' plan, introduced Wednesday by Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), appears to cut the deficit by between $600 billion and $700 billion from 2014 to 2023 - the budget has not been officially scored. Murray said her plan would reduce the deficit by $1.85 trillion over a decade, but her calculation includes a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases that she also proposes as a replacement for the $1.2 trillion, nine-year sequester. Murray does not specify which tax breaks would be cut to supply $975 billion in new revenues from eliminating deductions, exclusions or credits. The budget calls for $265 billion in cuts to Medicare, but does not specify the cuts other than to say they cannot hurt beneficiaries. The plan proposes to cut $10 billion from Medicaid without hurting beneficiaries, it recommends selling off 14,000 excess properties, reducing improper payments and consulting Government Accountability Office studies to find more cuts. The Senate Budget panel began a markup Wednesday that is expected to conclude today, setting up a floor vote next week. Overall, the budget has only 11 pages focused on spending cuts, compared to 39 pages focused on detailing $100 billion in new economic stimulus spending. That spending includes $50 billion in high-priority infrastructure repairs, $10 billion for ports, $10 billion for an infrastructure bank, $20 billion for technology infrastructure and $10 billion for worker training.
While the GOP House plan would get all of its deficit reduction from spending cuts, the Senate plan adopts what Democrats call a balanced approach, with $975 billion of the deficit reduction coming from revenue increases and $975 billion from spending cuts. Murray aims to mark up the measure today and move it to the floor next week.
For agriculture, the House budget plan directs $31 billion in savings from farm programs over ten years, but leaves it to the Ag Committee to determine the detailed cuts. The Senate budget measure would save $23 billion over ten years, but none from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.