House Approves 2013 Budget Plan, Including Pay Freeze Extension

Last Wednesday the House of Representatives approved a $982 billion spending package which funds government operations for the rest of fiscal year 2013.

"It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices, and it's up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said before the vote. "But right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation. This bill will fund essential federal programs and services, help maintain our national security, and take a potential shutdown off the table.”

The House approved bill would avert a government shutdown at the end of March and would cancel a 0.5 percent federal pay raise scheduled to take effect at the end of the month. Following the Wednesday vote, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), spoke out against the pay freeze provision.

“Once again, we treat the federal employee like a punching bag,” said Connolly. “For the third year in a row, we freeze their salary. They’ve already contributed, and they were the only group singled out to contribute to the federal debt reduction to the tune of $100 billion in lost wages and benefit cutbacks.”

The House spending billleaves in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon, while providing more flexibility to reallocate funds to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The bill provides $518.1 billion in non-war funding for the Pentagon and $133.9 billion in mandatory and discretionary funding for the VA.

After rejecting an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), which would have replaced the sequester this year with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases, the House voted to approve the budget measure mostly on party lines. The bill was passed by a vote of 267-151, with 53 Democrats supporting the bill and 14 Republican lawmakers opposed to it.

President Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about the House bill, but was not considering a veto and would work with Congress on it.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where it is expected to be considered this week.

A summary of the House spending bill, H.R. 933, can be found here.

 

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