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Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 2:21 p.m.

House passes $1 trillion budget bill, avoids shutdown

  • House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, during a news conference in Washington on Thursday.

    Susan Walsh / Associated Press

    House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, during a news conference in Washington on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — The House has passed a $1 trillion-plus catchall budget bill paying for day-to-day budgets of 10 Cabinet departments and averting a government shutdown.
The 296-121 vote to approve the measure represented a rare moment of bipartisanship in a polarized Capitol. Lawmakers are also seeking compromise on separate legislation to renew jobless benefits and a cut in payroll taxes.
The vote sends the measure to the Senate, which was expected to pass it on Saturday.
The bill puts in place budget curbs mandated under an August pact between President Barack Obama and Congress. It trims spending for most domestic agencies and awards the Pentagon the smallest budget hike in recent memory. It pays for overseas military operations and a slew of programs ranging from border security to flood control to combating AIDS and famine in Africa.
Many provisions sought by House Republicans were dropped from the bill before its passage, and Democrats blocked a series of GOP assaults on Environmental Protection Agency regulations, though the agency's budget absorbed a cut of more than 3 percent.
GOP leaders did succeed in halting new rules requiring energy efficient light bulbs, delays in regulations of coal dust and eliminating federal funding of needle exchange programs.
War costs would be $115 billion, a $43 billion cut from the previous year.
The bill chips away at the Pentagon budget, foreign aid and environmental spending but boosts funding for veterans programs. The Securities and Exchange Commission, responsible for enforcing new regulations under last year's financial overhaul, won a 10 percent budget increase, even as the tax-collecting IRS absorbed a more than 3 percent cut to its budget.
Popular education initiatives for special-needs children and disadvantaged schools were basically frozen, and Obama's cherished "Race to the Top" initiative, which provides grants to better-performing schools, would absorb a more than 20 percent cut. The maximum Pell grant for low-income college students would remain at $5,550, but only after major cost-cutting moves that would limit the number of semesters the grants may be received and make income eligibility standards more strict.

Highlights

—$518 billion for the Pentagon's core budget, a 1 percent boost, excluding military operations overseas.

—$115 billion for Pentagon war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan, $43 billion less than 2011 costs.

—$7.2 billion to sustain and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

—$11.8 billion for the IRS, an almost 3 percent budget cut.

—$39.6 billion for homeland security programs, a 5 percent cut, though border security and immigration enforcement are increased.

—$8.4 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a 6 percent cut from the president's request.

—$4.3 billion for the Indian Health Service, a 6 percent increase.

—$30.7 billion for health research, a 1 percent increase.

—$14.5 billion for Title I grants to schools, virtually the same as last year.

—$11.6 billion for grants to school districts for special needs children.

—$4.3 billion for Congress' own budget, a 5 percent cut.

—$122.2 billion for veterans programs.

—$3.5 billion for low-income heating and utility subsidies, a cut of about 25 percent.

—$53.3 billion for foreign aid and the State Department's budget.

—$8.1 billion for disaster aid.

—Reforms to the Pell Grant program that maintain the maximum award at $5,550 but limit the number of semesters the grants may be received and make income eligibility standards more strict.

The measure also contains many policy provisions, including those to:

—Block detainees from Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to the United States.

—Block new energy efficiency regulations for light bulbs.

—Prohibit the District of Columbia government from funding abortions for poor women.

—Ban federal funding of needle exchange programs that help prevent the spread of AIDS among drug users.

—Delay new Labor Department regulations limiting coal dust in mines.

—Require the government to use the E-verify system to make sure new federal hires are eligible to work in the United States.

—Block the EPA or state regulators from requiring clean water permits for the construction of timber roads.

—Delay voluntary guidelines on the food industry to limit marketing to children of foods that have high fat, sugar or sodium levels.

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration succeeded in dumping numerous other GOP policy "riders" from the bill, including attempts to:

—Block funding of various steps required to implement the new laws overhauling health care and financial regulation.

—Block Environmental Protection Agency rules on greenhouse gases, mountaintop removal mining and hazardous emissions from utility plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns. GOP efforts to block EPA rules on coal ash and large-scale discharges of hot water from utility plants were also blocked.

—Eliminate funding for family planning programs in the U.S. and overseas.

—Block Obama administration rules easing restrictions on people who visit and send money to relatives in Cuba.

—Ban taxpayer subsidies from being used to purchase National Public Radio programming.

—Eliminate taxpayer grants to Planned Parenthood.

—Require all teen pregnancy prevention grants to go to abstinence-only programs.

—Eliminate the option of public financing of presidential campaigns.

—Block "net neutrality" rules to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against those who send content and other services over their networks.

—Bar the Consumer Product Safety Commission from creating a public database of product safety concerns.

Story tags » JobsUnemploymentFederalEmploymentUnemploymentSocial securityMedicare

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