Senate Republicans Wavering on Spending Cuts

The first sign of division over GOP-backed spending cuts emerged June 27 as six Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to support the Senate Democratic spending plan for transportation and housing programs.

The Senate bill provides $54 billion for these programs in the coming fiscal year, $10 billion more than the House GOP total. The House plan assumes that overall levels of spending will remain consistent with those established under sequestration, while the Senate spending levels assume that sequestration will be replaced or repealed.

The six Republicans who voted in favor of the Senate Democratic plan were Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

According to a report in The Hill, Collins criticized the House plan.

“Have members actually reviewed what is in the House transportation and housing bill as a result of the allocation they received?” Collins asked her GOP colleagues. “Are we to be just a rubber stamp for the bill?”

Collins noted that the House bill cuts nearly $1 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program, which she called one of the most popular federal programs. The Senate bill has $3.15 billion for the grants used by local communities, compared to $1.6 billion in the House.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills showing their respective impacts on housing and community development programs.

The housing and transportation bill is just one of several that face severe cuts under the House spending levels. Comparisons of spending allocations (called "302(b) allocations") for each of the twelve spending bills are below.

House and Senate 302(b) Allocations (in $ millions)

Subcommittee 2013 Enacted (Before Sequestration) 2014 Presidential Request 2014 House 302(b)s 2014 Senate 302(b)s
Agriculture 20,510 19,667 19,450 20,930
Commerce, Justice, Science 50,110 52,014 46,845 52,272
Defense 517,468 515,910 512,522 516,624
Energy and Water 36,735 34,483 30,426 34,773
Financial Services and Gen. Govt 21,415 23,756 16,966 23,031
Homeland Security 39,594 39,030 38,993 39,100
Interior, Environment 29,767 29,973 24,278 30,100
Labor-HHS-Education 156,556 165,802 121,797 164,330
Legislative Branch 4,277 4,507 4,124 4,350
Military Construction-Veterans Affairs 71,903 74,691 73,320 74,366
State, Foreign Ops 42,079 47,872 34,103 44,079
Transportation-HUD 51,698 51,605 44,100 54,045
Subtotal Budget Authority (BA) 1,042,112 1,059,310 966,924 1,058,000
Designated Disaster Funds (mostly Homeland Sec)     5,626 5,785
Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)     92,289 84,530
Program Integrity     0 1,253
Total Budget Authority (BA)     1,064,839 1,149,568

Source: House and Senate appropriations committees.

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