What Was Cut In Last Week's Budget Agreement?
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
David, first of all, let's do the numbers here. President Obama and Democrats, and as well as Speaker Boehner, has said that this cut, $38 billion, is the biggest cut in the nation's history. Is that the case?
DAVID WELNA: The spending reductions we're talking about here amount to barely 3 percent of the $1.6 trillion deficit that's expected this year and only about 1 percent of the overall budget. That said, it is unusual for Congress to cut spending, especially in the middle of the fiscal year.
BLOCK: OK, so $38 billion in cuts. Where are they coming from?
WELNA: The White House says the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will have to give up about $13 billion. Another $8 billion worth of cuts come from the State Department and foreign aid. And the $2.5 billion dollars that were supposed to go to high-speed rail projects this year, that's being cut back to just $1 billion.
BLOCK: And what about what doesn't get cut in this bill?
WELNA: Well, the Pentagon, at the insistence of House Republicans, is actually getting about $5 billion more than it requested for this year. And the White House is touting having spared biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health from half a billion dollars in cuts, as well as having protected funding that the House had previously cut for some 60,000 children enrolled in Head Start, and money to implement provisions of the new financial services regulatory overhaul also got spared.
BLOCK: And, David, why don't you walk through some of the policy riders that Republicans were insisting on attaching to the budget bill?
WELNA: Social conservatives did get a couple of things they sought. The deal reinstates a ban on Washington, D.C., using local tax revenues to pay for abortion services for low-income women. And it also imposes a voucher system on the nation's capital that benefits private and religious schools.
BLOCK: So when does this budget bill does come up for a vote? We said Wednesday or Thursday in the House. One big question is, will social conservatives and Republicans who wanted bigger spending cuts going to back it?
WELNA: Well, some of them are clearly unhappy with this compromise. But it's hard to gauge right now how many of them might end up actually voting against the bill. If enough of them do, House Republican leaders will end up having to rely on votes from Democrats, many of whom also oppose this deal to pass measure, because if it doesn't pass, we'll be back to talking again about a possible shutdown.
BLOCK: NPR's David Welna at the Capitol.
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