WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led House last year twice passed bills to replace automatic spending cuts now scheduled to go into effect March 1. The bills, first passed on May 10 and then in an updated version on Dec. 20, both advanced by narrow margins with no Democratic votes. They were never considered in the Senate and did not carry over to the new Congress.
The bills would have spared the Pentagon and certain domestic programs from cuts, now put at $85 billion over the last seven months of this budget year. That money would have been replaced by cuts and other savings from domestic programs totaling more than $300 billion over the next decade. They included no new tax revenues.
Republicans said their bills would eliminate bailouts, duplications, slush funds, and fraud. Democrats said they would undermine social service programs that help the poor.
Among the principal provisions:
- Rule-tightening that could reduce food stamp recipients, now about 47 million, by about 2 million, and shrink school lunch programs.
- Blocking illegal immigrants from claiming refundable tax credits of up to $1,000 a child.
- Cutting Social Service Block Grant programs, which Republicans say are duplicative, affecting programs such as Meals on Wheels for the elderly, child care and child abuse prevention.
- Taking away the government's authority to liquidate "too big to fail" financial institutions to avoid a Wall Street crisis.
- Eliminating the ability of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set its own budget.
- Consolidating dozens of duplicative federal employment training programs.
- Defunding or limiting several provisions in the new health care act, including provisions that give states incentives to increase their Medicaid rolls.
- Seeking reductions in health care costs by reining in medical malpractice lawsuits.
- Eliminating a program to help homeowners who are "underwater" on their mortgages with loan modifications.
- Requiring federal workers to contribute 5 percent more of their pay toward their pension plans.
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