Senate Democrats “are reviewing possible spending cuts in drafting a seven-month bill to keep the government in operation after existing funding expires on March 4, officials said Thursday, the first time they have demonstrated a willingness to embrace immediate reductions,” the AP reports.
These Democratic officials said about $8.5 billion remaining from previously approved congressional earmarks may be reduced or eliminated, and Democratic aides also are reviewing President Barack Obama’s proposed program cuts and terminations for 2012 to see whether any should take effect immediately.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they are not authorized to discuss private deliberations.
President Obama’s “2012 budget includes $24.7 billion in program reductions and terminations, and it was not immediately clear which of them might be included in the legislation Senate Democratic leaders send to the floor.”
One candidate is an alternative engine for the Pentagon’s next-generation fighter aircraft, a program that the White House and Secretary of defense Robert Gates oppose, and that the House voted to jettison at a savings of about $450 million. Obama also has proposed a $2.5 billion reduction in energy assistance for the low-income, arguing that a recent spike in prices has dissipated. The proposal drew sharp criticism from some Democrats at the time it was disclosed.
Obama has also proposed a $1 billion reduction in a grant program for local airports and cuts in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, as well as dozens of smaller reductions.