Biden threatens veto as GOP outlines proposed FY25 cuts

Biden threatens veto as GOP outlines proposed FY25 cuts

House Republicans are moving their initial fiscal 2025 funding bills, laying out specifics of where they intend to make drastic cuts across agencies and drawing stark rejections from the White House. 

The House Appropriations Committee, using funding levels below those agreed to as part of a two-year budget framework Republicans struck with President Biden last year, has already approved one measure—that funds military construction and the Veterans Affairs Department—for next fiscal year. Democrats on the panel castigated the bill and Biden on Monday threatened to veto it, primarily due to policy riders attached to the legislation. 

The bill would keep VA funding roughly in line with Biden’s request, but slash about $700 million from military construction. It rejects climate change and resiliency initiatives, while banning VA from performing abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk and providing gender-affirming care. 

Republicans on the appropriations panel on Monday released a measure to fund the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and related agencies for fiscal 2025, which would institute an overall cut of 12% compared to current spending.

It would slash USAID by 29%, prohibit spending on several initiatives related to climate change and severely cut funding for the United Nations. Fourteen accounts would see their allotments cut back to fiscal 2019 levels, including the U.S. Agency for Global Media and Peace Corps.

House Democrats said the measure would force the United States to surrender its place on the international stage while it “underfunds operations and staffing” for both State and USAID. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who chairs the appropriations committee, said the measure simply “reduces wasteful spending.” State Department Secretary Antony Blinken recently told Senate appropriators he would have to make “fundamental tradeoffs” if forced to deal with reduced funding levels, and the Democratic leader of that panel said he could promise only to make fiscal 2025 as “minimally harmful” as possible for the agency.

In their bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, also unveiled on Monday, Republicans proposed a 5% spending bump. The measure would decrease funding for Customs and Border Protection by 7%, while rejecting Biden’s request for nearly $5 billion in contingency funds to supplement operations when a large number of migrants arrive at the southwest border.

It would provide funding for 22,000 Border Patrol agents, a level the agency has long struggled to reach. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would see a 10% boost, while the Transportation Security Administration would receive a 9% bump. U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services would see a whopping 60% decrease, likely forcing the agency to furlough staff or lay them off. 

“Rather than respecting their agreement and taking the opportunity to engage in a productive, bipartisan appropriations process to build on last year’s bills, House Republicans are again wasting time with partisan bills that would result in deep cuts to law enforcement, education, housing, health care, consumer safety, energy programs that lower utility bills and combat climate change and essential nutrition services,” the White House said on Monday. 

The spending panel is expected to vote on the DHS and State bills this week, as well as a measure to set funding levels for the Treasury Department, the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration and others. That bill is expected to inflict an overall cut of 10%-11%, including significant reductions to the Internal Revenue Service. The Biden administration is in the midst of implementing an unprecedented surge of IRS funding and the president is unlikely to sign such a bill into law. 

Republican appropriators are putting aside parts of the two-year budget deal President Biden struck with House Republicans last year in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, saying they are instead sticking only to the spending levels detailed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. In addition to that law, Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed to other mechanisms that would ultimately allow both defense and non-defense discretionary spending to increase by 1% in fiscal 2025.

The Senate, which is striving to release bipartisan bills as it did last year, has yet to unveil any of its 12 annual must-pass spending measures. As many conservatives have pushed for a larger-than-1% increase in defense spending, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, has vowed to match any increase to defense spending with an equal increase to non-defense spending. 

Congress could opt to punt the drafting of bicameral funding bills until after the upcoming presidential election, as it did in 2020. Current funding is set to expire at the end of September.



Read the full article here