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House GOP Threatens Government Shutdown To Get Steeper Cuts To Food Assistance, Financial Regulations

House Republicans made it clear earlier this year that they had no intention of upholding the debt deal reached in 2011, despite a vow from President Obama that he would veto any appropriations bills that attempted to cut more spending than was agreed upon last August and a pledge from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the deal would be upheld in the Senate.

After earlier indications that they would make substantial cuts to domestic programs to preserve defense spending, the House Appropriations Committee made it official yesterday, setting a spending level $27 billion below the level agreed to in the debt deal. The committee, bowing to the GOP’s more conservative wing, will make deep cuts to food assistance, financial regulations, and a host of other programs, setting up the potential for a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends in October, Politico reports:

The House begins with a total of $1.028 trillion for discretionary spending, $19 billion below the $1.047 trillion target set last summer and $15 billion below what was enacted just months ago for the current 2012 fiscal year. Republicans would also go $8 billion over the caps set in the Budget Control Act for defense spending, and the result would be a net reduction of more than $27 billion from all other appropriations.

This translates into an added cut of about 5 percent, with the burden falling chiefly on a half-dozen domestic spending bills affecting nutrition programs, transportation, financial regulatory agencies, natural resources, and especially the labor, health and education bill cited by Dicks.

After GOP leadership worked with Democrats to form the debt deal last year, the party’s conservatives have seemingly wrangled control back from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) opposed efforts to break the deal but went along at Boehner’s urging in attempts to assuage more conservative members — even still, four conservatives pushed Rogers to cut as much as $97 billion from the debt agreement.

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Senate Republicans, despite McConnell’s stated position last week, are now making similar rumblings. South Dakota Sen. John Thune (R) said Wednesday that the Senate GOP may back House Republicans in setting lower spending limits, saying, “I think we’ve got to be as aggressive as we can in trying to rein in the cost of government, the growth of government.” With White House officials reiterating the president’s veto threat, however, 2012 is shaping up similarly to the summer of 2011, when Republicans repeatedly pushed the government to the brink of shutdown and nearly caused its default before striking a debt deal at the last minute.