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As I noted earlier, House Republicans have pledged to cut spending by twenty percent in the coming year, but at least up until now they've refused to identify any specific budget cuts.
Well, now that appears to be changing. In addition to blocking any funding for implementing new regulations on Wall Street, House Republicans are arguing that funding for Pell Grants should be cut in the continuing resolution which will fund government until next March.
Democrats did see fit to use the CR to address an important and pressing problem: covering the $5.7 billion shortfall in the Pell Grant program (which provides college tuition funding to low- and moderate-income students). Due to unexpected demand in the wake of the Great Recession, the program needed a funding fix to prevent grant cuts in 2011. Some House Republicans, however, are displeased that the extra funding was included:
House Appropriations Committee ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) decried the inclusion of $5.7 billion for the Pell Grant program, which will incur a shortage without additional funding, calling it “a perennial priority of the House Democrat leadership and Appropriations Committee Chairman [David] Obey [D-Wis.]“…The “Democrat majority will cap off the year with yet another massive spending bill that will force our nation into further deficits and debt,” Lewis said in a statement.
Incoming House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) emphasized that he intends to cut all federal discretionary spending back to the 2008 level, which would entail significant Pell Grant reductions. Simply allowing the shortfall to persist would reduce grants for 9 million students, with the maximum grant cut by $845.
Because Democrats still control the House, the GOP objections are mostly hot air, but they do serve as a window into what sorts of programs Republicans will try to cut when they take over the House next year. The only question is whether Democrats -- in particular, the administration -- will fight the GOP on these draconian cuts, or whether they'll enable the GOP's unwise austerity program.
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 06:06 PM PST.