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Lawmakers Prepare To Vote On 2011 Budget Deal
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Lawmakers Prepare To Vote On 2011 Budget Deal
Lawmakers Prepare To Vote On 2011 Budget Deal
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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Congress has been working to adjust the price of government. Lawmakers agreed to a budget deal last Friday. But at the time, most of them did not know what was in it. Now our correspondents do have some details.

TOM BOWMAN: I'm Tom Bowman, and I cover the Pentagon. The Pentagon budget amounts to $530 billion. But that's not enough for Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He said back in February he needs at least $540 billion. Whatever the budget figure to run the Pentagon, that does not include war spending. That comes out of another pot. The spending for Iraq and Afghanistan for this year: $158 billion.

MICHELE KELEMEN: I'm Michele Kelemen, and I cover the State Department, where diplomats and development experts are trying to figure out ways to do more with less. One of the biggest hits is to U.S. contributions to the United Nations: $377 million less than in 2010. Millions of dollars are also being trimmed from peacekeeping and from international financial institutions. Foreign assistance makes up less than 1 percent of the overall federal budget.

MONTAGNE: So, those are some highlights of spending overseas. Other changes affect domestic spending.

JULIE ROVNER: I'm Julie Rovner, and I cover health care. In the health part of the budget, it's actually most notable for things that the negotiators didn't do. They dropped proposals that would have eliminated funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, and it would have defunded Planned Parenthood. They also dropped amendments that would have basically cut off funding to implement the new health law. So that goes forward.

And speaking of the health law, there's actually a lot of money in that law that can make up for some of the other cuts that are included in the budget deal.

LARRY ABRAMSON: I'm Larry Abramson, and I cover the Education Department, which faces of a cut of less than 2 percent of its overall budget. President Obama largely protected favored programs, such as Race to the Top grants for K through 12 education and Pell Grants for low-income college students. Still, some education programs face total elimination.

A literacy program known as Striving Readers will lose all federal support: $250 million. While the overall budget cut for education was relatively modest, if you add on cuts in state funding, money for schools will continue to be tight.

PAM FESSLER: I'm Pam Fessler, and I cover poverty issues. The bill cuts spending on safety net programs, but not nearly as much as the House wanted. Head Start for low-income children would be preserved. The bill trims funds for public housing and to provide nutrition aid for women, infants and children. Community development block grants would be cut $900 million. Mayors use that money for low-income housing and other local projects.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: I'm David Folkenflik, and I cover media for NPR. What happened in the public broadcasting realm - so contentious, so controversial in the weeks leading up to this budget deal - was both sides get to claim victory. Republicans can say they cut tens of millions of dollars, but the core of public broadcasting, those annual allocations for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was left almost untouched - pretty much public broadcasting funding intact.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: I'm Elizabeth Shogren, and I cover the environment. The issues that I cover have seen a lot of cuts. The Environmental Protection Agency's cuts would add up to $1.6 billion. There are office and policy changes that will last long past this budget. The biggest one has to do with the wolves that live in the northern Rocky Mountains. They're now protected by the Federal Endangered Species List, and they would lose this protection under this budget deal. This is the first time that Congress has stepped in and decided to take an animal off the endangered species list.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Elizabeth Shogren, David Folkenflik, Pam Fessler, Larry Abramson, Julie Rovner, Tom Bowman and Michele Kelemen.

The House and Senate could both vote on the budget deal as early as tomorrow.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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