WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats controlling the House approved a plan Thursday to cut $7 billion from President Barack Obama's budget request for foreign aid and the operating budgets for Cabinet agencies.
Obama has already proposed an overall freeze in non-security agency accounts for the budget year that begins in October. At issue is the one-third of the federal budget that Congress passes each year through appropriations bills.
"It demands that we live within our means ... and works to eliminate waste and inefficiency in our spending," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "And it sets us on-course to balanced budgets in the future."
In fact, the Democratic plan requires just a little snip from the $1.1 trillion proposed by Obama for such accounts next year and would come after generous increases approved over the last two Democratic-dominated appropriations cycles. And it means that Democrats are putting off more difficult decisions involving rapidly growing benefit programs like Medicare.
Democrats are instead leaving such choices to Obama's fiscal commission, which is supposed to report a long-term budget plan by December. There's no guarantee that the commission will succeed, however.
The measure was approved instead of a more comprehensive budget blueprint that would have forced Democrats to go on record in support of huge deficits.
Republicans blasted the move as an abdication of the core responsibilities of Congress - passing a budget plan that lays out a fiscal blueprint for the future.
"Facing a record deficit and a tidal wave of debt, House Democrats decided it was politically inconvenient to put forward a budget and account for their fiscal recklessness," said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, top Republican on the Budget Committee. "With no priorities and no restraints, the spending, taxing and borrowing will continue unchecked for the coming fiscal year."
Adoption of the measure allows Democrats to call up the 12 annual appropriations bills. They are well behind schedule, however, and it's increasingly likely that in the poisonous political environment that most of the spending measures won't become law until after the midterm elections.
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