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Amid veto threat, House passes spending bill

May. 10, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The House of Representatives passed a spending bill that would cut funding for programs at several agencies and departments, despite a veto threat from the Obama administration.
The House of Representatives passed a spending bill that would cut funding for programs at several agencies and departments, despite a veto threat from the Obama administration. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

Defying a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives Thursday passed a spending bill that would steeply cut funding for several programs at the Commerce and Justice departments, NASA and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act would provide $51.1 billion in funding for its affected agencies next year $1.6 billion below this year's levels and $731 million below the White House's budget request.

The bill, HR 5326, passed 247-163 and contains several amendments, such as:

A provision from Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., that would prohibit the General Services Administration from building a new $399 million courthouse in Los Angeles. Denham said Los Angeles' two existing federal courthouses are operating under capacity and there is no need to build a third.

An amendment by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to defend the Affordable Care Act.

An amendment by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., that would prevent Justice from using funds in ways that violate the Defense of Marriage Act.

An amendment by Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., to strip funding from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Under the bill, Commerce would receive $7.7 billion in 2013 $96 million more than it received this year, but $280 million below the White House's request.

In a Statement of Administration Policy issued Monday, the White House objected to the bill's $5 billion in funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which it said would be $93 million less than the administration requested. This would hurt NOAA's ability to support fisheries and protected species programs, the White House said. The House Appropriations Committee said its NOAA funding would be a $68 million increase from fiscal 2012 levels.

In addition, the White House said cutting $92 million from its proposed 2013 Census Bureau budget would hurt its ability to collect economic data and prepare for the 2020 census. HR 5326's proposed 2013 budget of $879 million would be almost $10 million below 2012 levels.

The administration also opposed cuts to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the International Trade Administration.

The Justice Department would get $27.1 billion under the bill $11 million above this year's level and $44 million below the White House's request. But Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Grants Program funding would be $217 million below the fiscal 2013 budget request, which the White House said would cost about 1,200 police officers their jobs around the nation.

EEOC would receive almost $367 million next year, almost $7 million more than this year. But the White House said it is concerned the funding would be $7 million below the budget request. This would prevent EEOC from filling critical investigator positions, which the White House said would increase EEOC's backlog.

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