The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to rescind $110 billion in mandated cuts to the Pentagon’s budget by pushing these reductions onto domestic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other mandatory social programs, which are already facing substantial budget cuts.
Led by House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Republicans approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, with 16 Republicans defecting on the issue. The new measure further advances the GOP’s contentious revision of billions in cuts to military spending, which were mandated after the congressional debt commission’s super committee failed to agree on where to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. The Republican bill would shift the cuts away from defense instead:
The Republican bill now would leave these $12 billion in cuts from mandatory programs in place — with the exception of defense. And the real focus of the rewrite is on the appropriations side of the ledger, where the Pentagon faces a $55 billion, or 10 percent, cut.
The House plan would shield the Pentagon from any reduction and, in fact, holds out the promise of an $8 billion increase for defense above the caps set last summer. Domestic programs would also share in some of the protection, but given the cuts already ordered under Ryan’s plan, the sums at stake are far less.
While the measure completely exempts defense cuts, it includes provisions to repeal the Affordable Care Act and takes away about $36 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which the association said would eliminate benefits to about 2 million Americans. Undoubtedly, low-income Americans would be hit the hardest, specifically the long-term unemployed, single-mother households and working-class immigrant families.
Given that the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act is expected to die in the Senate, the measure is nothing more than a declaration of partisan principle. It raises the question of precisely what the GOP hopes to gain in the face of this potential legislative deadlock by pushing a budget destined to go no where.