WASHINGTON -- The GOP-controlled House passed legislation yesterday to replace a looming 10 percent cut to the military budget with cuts to domestic programs like food stamps and health care.

The partisan 218-199 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where it's a dead letter with Democratic leaders, who insist on keeping the automatic cuts in place as leverage to try to force Republicans to agree to a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts to address the nation's deficit woes.

The automatic spending cuts, totaling $110 billion next year, are punishment for the failure of last year's deficit-reduction "supercommittee" to strike a deal.

Lawmakers in both parties want to avoid the automatic cuts.

But Democrats are strongly opposed to the GOP approach, which slices more than $300 billion from domestic programs over the coming decade to prevent the Pentagon from absorbing a $55 billion blow to its budget next year and also hits domestic agencies with an 8 percent cut to their day-to-day operating budgets.

The measure could actually increase the deficit in the near term by about $24 billion since the spending cuts take effect over time while the automatic cuts are more immediate.

Defense hawks warn the Pentagon cuts would mean reduced troop levels, military base closings and a significantly smaller Navy and Air Force.

The replacement cuts include blocking illegal immigrants from claiming refundable child tax credits and cutting almost 2 million people off of food stamps.

Sixteen Republicans opposed the measure, mostly more moderate members such as Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Steve LaTourette of Ohio. No Democrats voted for it.

The automatic cuts would strike domestic benefit programs as well, including a 2 percentage point cut from Medicare payments to health care providers and a $16 billion cut in farm subsidies over a decade.

The GOP measure would leave those cuts in place.

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