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House bill would extend CR, continue pay freeze

Mar. 4, 2013 - 06:16PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., is House Appropriations Committee Chairman.
Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., is House Appropriations Committee Chairman. (Getty Images)

House Republicans on Monday unveiled a $982 billion spending package aimed at heading off a government shutdown later this month.

The bill also would extend the federal pay freeze for a third year, canceling a 0.5 percent increase scheduled to take effect at the end of this month.

The bill, which would fund government operations for the rest of fiscal 2013, would replace a continuing resolution that expires March 27. It would generally lock in the lower sequester budget levels that took effect Friday, but give the Defense Department more latitude in spending its money.

The full House could vote on the package later this week.

“It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices and it’s up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future,” Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the appropriations committee’s chairman, said in a news release. “But right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation.”

The package’s overall cost would be about $65 billion — or 6 percent — below the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending cap set by Congress two years ago under the Budget Control Act. The act required the sequester cuts that took effect Friday after lawmakers and the Obama administration failed to agree on a roadmap for reducing future federal deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. Those cuts exempt military personnel and veterans programs but shave other defense programs by 7.8 percent and non-defense programs by 5 percent, according to the White House budget office.

Unlike a standard CR, the House bill would allow the Pentagon and the Veteran Affairs Department to shift money among accounts. The Pentagon would get less money, for example, for military personnel than last year to account for a drop in troop levels, but receive more funding for operations and maintenance to meet training and other readiness needs, according to the news release.

According to the release and a committee spokeswoman, the legislation would also:

• Require the U.S. Postal Service to continue Saturday mail delivery

• Allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to keep current staffing levels

• Allow added funding to ensure the safe operation of federal prisons

• Allow added funding to maintain the launch schedule for new weather satellites.

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