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Posted at 6:25 PM ET, 01/25/2011

House votes to cut spending to 2008 levels

By Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane

Updated: 6:25 p.m.

Hours before President Obama's State of the Union address, the House on Tuesday approved a resolution that would cut federal spending to 2008 levels for the rest of the fiscal year, a largely symbolic move aimed at underscoring Republicans' commitment to fiscal responsibility.

The measure passed on a 256 to 165 vote.

Seventeen Democrats, mostly from conservative districts, joined with Republicans to back the resolution, including Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.). Thirteen lawmakers -- 11 Democrats and two Republicans -- did not vote.

The resolution instructs House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to set spending for the current fiscal year, which ends in September, at 2008 levels or lower.

But Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the Democratic majority would not consider its version of the new spending bill until the first week of March, leaving little time for negotiations with House Republicans over a final compromise before the March 4 deadline when current funding expires.

This creates the possibility of another stop-gap measure to be approved while the House, Senate and White House hold negotiations over the final shape of the measure.

"Looks like it," Inouye told reporters Tuesday afternoon when asked about the possibility of a short-term funding measure.

In a floor speech ahead of the House vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) decried Tuesday's resolution as "political theater."

"Deficit theater is easy -- deficit action is hard," Hoyer said. "I urge my colleagues to vote down this resolution, and I hope that Republicans will turn from empty symbolism to the real action needed to restore fiscal balance and protect the future of our middle class: keeping our entitlements solvent, scrutinizing defense spending, and pursuing tax reform that reduces the deficit."

The Congressional Budget Office is slated to release a report Wednesday detailing spending levels so far this fiscal year; Ryan is then expected to instruct the House appropriations subcommittees on how much to cut from their budgets in order to go below the 2008 spending levels.

That sets the stage for a vote in the House on the continuing resolution to fund the federal government. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Tuesday morning that the vote will take place the week of Feb. 14.

"I know it's a little bit out of the norm to announce this early the scheduling of votes, but this is how serious we are in delivering on our commitment to cut spending," Cantor said after House Republicans' weekly meeting. "The speaker has continued to say we're going to have an open process in this House, and the House will work its will. Our intention is to allow every member on both sides of the political aisle to come forward and offer his or her prescriptions for how we cut spending and reduce the size of government."

The planned vote on funding the government comes on the same week that President Obama's budget is expected to be released. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at Monday's press briefing that the budget will likely be released on Feb. 14th or 15th.

House Republican leaders are facing pressure from members of the conservative Republican Study Group to cut more than $100 billion from the federal budget. GOP leaders had originally pledged to make cuts of that amount, but because the continuing resolution that's currently funding the government is set to last until Mar. 4 - which is halfway through the current fiscal year - they revised their projected cuts to about $60 billion.

Asked Tuesday about some members' calls for greater cuts, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) emphasized that the budget vote will happen through an open process that will allow members to offer amendments.

"I believe it's important as the speaker to allow for an open process here in the House, to allow members from both sides of the aisle to offer amendments and to allow the House to work its will," Boehner said.

By Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane  | January 25, 2011; 6:25 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Barry the incompetent boob Obama claims he too supports a spending cut. We shall see. Meanwhile the forces the Senate to put their money where their mouth is. There are 20 Dim senators up for re-election next year, 12 of them from states that became red states in last November's election.

Barry's snoozefest last night proposed more tax & spend boondoggles that his first speech in 2009.

Miserable failure Obama

Posted by: screwjob23 | January 26, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You're right, tedri_50, you can't "turn back time." Its important to understand that as the U.S. defaults on its debt. As Obama sez: no more "stimulus" spending. Now, we'll have more "investment" spending. Haha! What fools we are.

Posted by: shred11 | January 25, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

As backward looking as the GOP is, even they should realize you csn't turn back time....

Posted by: tedri_50 | January 25, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Are they going to cut their salaries to 2008 level??? Considering they would not give up their governement sponsored health care, I seriously doubt it...

Posted by: phorse | January 25, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's see. Wasn't that just a year or so before the great recession? Why not 2009 when the GOP and Bush were bailing out billion-doillar corporatiopns and rich CEOs to cover up their previous mismanagement?

Posted by: tinyjab40 | January 25, 2011 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are going to have to explain why they are willing to cut Social Security but unwilling to eliminate the cap on Social Security earnings.

They are starting to feel the push by the teeparty to cut defense, Secretary Gates is trying to give them a chance but they are going to fight getting rid of Senile Reagan's useless cold war weapons programs.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 25, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Roblit1 | January 25, 2011 5:28 PM
"Comedic effort...where's the cuts Repubs?
What's Ryan going to suggest we cut?
Like Carter?"

Sooo .... What's wrong with cutting defense?

Carter cut the worthless B-1 Bomber and senile Reagan put it back in as a bone to the military industrial complex.
I bet ten of us could cut $250 BILLION out of defense without a problem.

The first item I would cut would be the number of generals.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 25, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Cut discretionary spending to zero and we are still in the hole. Cutting defense and entitlements combined with medicare tax increase, loophole closing, agriculture subsidies is far better than cutting Justice, FDA, etc. by 20%. Corporate taxes can be reduced to 20% if a min. corp. tax payable of 15% is put in with it. Big corps. avg 12% in taxes while Joe the plumber is over 20%. The writeoff of foreign taxes paid and deferred taxes only supports outsourcing. A min. tax of 28% (like high earned income) on capital gains over 10 million could finance an investment tax credit which certainly would create jobs here instead of another WalMart factory in China.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 25, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Suggest anyone who wants to talk spending cuts examine the Federal Budget and learn where we spend money. Pay particular attention to discretionary spending, since that is the only kind that can be cut.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 25, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Suggest anyone who wants to talk spending cuts examine the Federal Budget and learn where we spend money. Pay particular attention to discretionary spending, since that is the only kind that can be cut.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 25, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Suggest anyone who wants to talk spending cuts examine the Federal Budget and learn where we spend money. Pay particular attention to discretionary spending, since that is the only kind that can be cut.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 25, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

How about cutting 95% of the 900+ foreign military bases?
Do we need airbases in Italy? Do we need more than one air base in Germany,UK,Japan or Korea?
Soo going back to 2008 budget does that mean taking both of bush's wars and prescription drug plan off the books again?

Posted by: knjincvc | January 25, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

So, true to form, elected republicans rather than unelected talking heads, could not actually name anything they were going to cut or any agency they were going to destroy. I wonder if the teabaggers have figured out yet that they were suckered.

Posted by: treefrog2 | January 25, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Whenever Republicans vote for anything, WashPo calls it symbolic.

When Dems do the same, WashPo calls it heroic.

The only thing symbolic about this vote is that it signals Republicans finally mean business on cutting Government spending.

Posted by: jfv123 | January 25, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Easy to see why they like 2008; heavy on military spending, light on anything resembling progress.

Any chance they can raise revenue to 2008 levels too, or is that asking too much?

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 25, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Comedic effort...where's the cuts Repubs?

What's Ryan going to suggest we cut?


Like Carter?

Posted by: Roblit1 | January 25, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Paul Ryan, Republican House Budget Committee chair, was chosen to provide the Republican response and that Eric Cantor embraced Ryan's radical economic roadmap Sunday on Meet the Press, makes fairly clear how radical the GOP House intends to be on the budget.

The Ryan Republican roadmap would gut Social Security, raising the retirement age, privatize a substantial chunk of it, turn Medicare into a voucher program in which voucher rates wouldn't increase with inflation, and creating a tax structure that manages to raise taxes on 90 percent of Americans and still lose $2 trillion in revenue over ten years due to dramatic tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans.

The Ryan Republican plan would explode the income gap, already unprecedented in modern times, in America by slashing taxes on capital gains and eliminating the estate tax. The Republican plan essentially relives the richest Americans from any responsibility to pay for the support of their country.


Posted by: DrainYou | January 25, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Cutting forieg aid -- great thinking. That will save .001% of the overall federal budget.

AS for the stupidity of proposing that President Obama go back to the disasterous budget priorities of the bush administrations allocation of funds in 2008 == republicons are full of nonsense gimmicks, but no ideas of any merit.

Posted by: John1263 | January 25, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Saying you want to cut spending is easy.

Naming where the cuts will come from seems to be very hard. I have a hard time believing the Republicans are serious when they say, but never do.

Governing is ultimately about doing something, not saying something.

We need our gov't to govern, not be political...

Posted by: josh13 | January 25, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes sir're, cut spending that is what we sent you up there to do...start with cutting foreign aid in half.

Posted by: tonyjm | January 25, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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