GOP Plan Would Outspend Obama on Science, Commerce, Justice

Wednesday, 30 Apr 2014 09:26 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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House Republicans have proposed a $51.2 billion appropriations plan for the nation's science, commerce, and justice programs in a plan that outspends President Barack Obama in most cases while requiring cuts from domestic health, environmental, and other services.

On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers presented a budget that promises millions more to the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and to the FBI in a plan that comes in at about $1 billion higher than Obama's 2015 base budget,  Politico reports.

Under their plan, the National Science Foundation would be promised $7.4 billion, or $237 million more than under Obama's plan; NASA would get $17.9 billion, a boost of $494 million; and the FBI would get $8.47 billion, or $120 million more than Obama's base budget.

But the increases would come at a cost to programs favored by Democrats, including legal services for the poor and the community policing "COPS" program, a favorite project of Vice President Joe Biden. In addition, the Commerce Department would see cuts to climate initiatives and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Both the House and Senate have promised open debates on the $1 trillion part of the federal budget Congress controls, following the partial government shutdown last fall and January's vote on a massive appropriations bill that kept another shutdown from occurring.

The $1 trillion spending cap is generally split between $521 billion for defense and $492 billion on domestic programs and foreign aid, Politico reports. But the extra $1 billion House Republicans plan for commerce, law enforcement, and science will need to be made up elsewhere, and many of Obama's top priority programs are being targeted.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., plans to outline his appropriations next week, and has said he can find cuts in labor, health, and education.

Meanwhile, Rogers' Senate counterpart, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has managed commerce, justice, and science for years in the Senate, reports Politico, and even argued  Tuesday in a hearing that budget caps are hurting the nation's research efforts.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to approve 12 appropriations bills, with the new fiscal year starting on Oct. 1, Roll Call reports, but a five-week recess in August, along with this year's midterm elections, could make that difficult.

Rogers is pushing the House to pass all 12 bills before the August recess, and spending measures for Military Construction-VA and legislative branch spending are expected come up for a vote this week. After that, House members will consider the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill unveiled on Tuesday.

In the Senate, Mikulski said her committee will hold its first markup of the VA bill around May 22. She hopes that chamber can individually pass some of the early bills and the rest in "minibuses" that package several bills by Oct. 1.

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