WASHINGTON -- Moving on two fronts, the Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to keep the government running for the next six months while pushing through a tea party-flavored budget for next year, aimed at shrinking the government by another $4.6 trillion over the next decade.
The spending authorization, on its way to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature, leaves in place $85 billion in spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies. The result will be temporary furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors over the next six months and interrupted, slower or halted services and aid for many Americans.
The nonbinding GOP budget plan for 2014 and beyond calls for a balanced budget in 10 years' time and sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and other domestic programs.
The developments demonstrated the split nature of this year's budget debate. Competing nonbinding budget measures by each party provide platforms for political principles; at the same time Capitol Hill leaders forged a bipartisan deal on carrying out the government's core responsibilities, in this case providing money for agencies to operate and preventing a government shutdown.
While leaving the bulk of the automatic cuts in place, it eases the effect of the trims on food inspections and college assistance for active-duty military and relieves the Pentagon from a cash crunch in accounts for training and readiness. Veteran health programs will get their scheduled increases, and there are big boosts to modernize the Pentagon's nuclear arsenal. It also ensures full funding for a food program for pregnant women and their babies.