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Democrats Want Defense Cuts as Part of a Budget Agreement

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  • March 17, 2011
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Senate Democrats are insisting that defense spending be part of any deal to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal 2011.

“It’s a pretty universal feeling on our side that you have to go beyond domestic discretionary to get to a number that would be a compromise number,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CQ Today.

Any effort to cut DOD spending in 2011 below current levels will meet heavy resistance from the Pentagon, however, which repeatedly has stated that continuing to fund the department at FY 2010 levels will force major sacrifices in readiness as officials shift funds toward “must-pay” bills such as salaries and healthcare.

Senate Democrats also want entitlement programs to be included in an agreement on FY 2011 spending, a position which puts them at odds with House Republicans who have primarily targeted non-security discretionary spending for cuts as part of their spending plan for the year.

Since the two parties began talks over a 2011 budget, Republican leaders have said they believe reforms to mandatory spending programs should not be brought up until the fiscal 2012 budget is addressed.

Following the Senate’s approval Thursday of the sixth continuing resolution of fiscal 2011, the two sides will have three more weeks to strike a deal on a full-year spending bill before a government shutdown next looms. The stopgap measure passed in the Senate would keep the federal government running through April 8 and cut $6 billion from current funding levels.

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