WASHINGTON – The House on Tuesday passed the first of 12 spending bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1, a popular measure providing more money for veterans’ programs like health care.
The boost for veterans came even as Republicans controlling the chamber marched ahead with a plan that would require most other domestic programs to absorb even deeper cuts next year than those in place now after the imposition of across-the-board spending cuts.
Those cuts, known as sequestration, would wring more than $100 billion from the $3.6 trillion federal budget, most of which comes from the approximately $1 trillion “discretionary” portion of the budget approved by Congress each year to fund the day-to-day operations of federal agencies.
The veterans’ measure passed by a 421-4 vote Tuesday, even though the White House already had weighed in with a veto threat. The White House doesn’t have a problem with the substance of the veterans’ bill; rather it opposes the broader GOP spending plan, saying it would force destructive cuts to programs like Head Start preschool for the poor, medical research and federal law enforcement.
The White House and its Democratic allies in Congress support spending levels more than $90 billion – about 9 percent – above those called for by the tea party-driven House.
Republicans are coping with the shortfall by slashing across a broad swath of domestic programs, forcing cuts in the range of 20 percent, for instance, to a huge domestic spending bill that funds aid to local school districts, health research and enforcement of labor laws. Cuts to domestic agencies are magnified by a move to restore $28 billion in sequester-imposed cuts to the Pentagon.