Rep Cantor Moves To Head Off Potential Fiscal 2012 Spending Fight
August 17, 2011
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) on Wednesday moved to head off a potential fight over fiscal 2012 spending levels that looms when Congress returns from the August recess.
Earlier this year, the House voted to set total fiscal-year 2012 discretionary spending at $1.019 trillion. But a deal to raise the debt ceiling set spending at $1.043 trillion, or nearly $25 billion higher. In a memo to House Republicans, Cantor argued that digging in their heels to fight for the smaller spending level wasn't worth a government shutdown, especially since it would still leave discretionary spending in fiscal 2012 $7 billion below 2011 levels.
"While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level," Cantor wrote in a memo to House Republicans. "I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level."
Cantor also tried to pre-empt U.S. President Barack Obama, who is reportedly considering recommending that lawmakers on a newly created deficit committee back new measures to stimulate the economy. Cantor said that the focus should remain on cutting spending.
"We must put an end to the policy uncertainty constantly being driven by this Administration," Cantor wrote in the memo. "That means stopping the discussions of new stimulus spending with money that we simply do not have," he added.
Cantor also said that "it is in everyone's interest" for the debt panel to come up with the minimum amount of cuts without raising taxes. If the panel fails to come up with an agreement, or if Congress fails to pass it, then an array of other spending cuts disliked by both sides, an option known as sequestration, will take effect.
"I have heard some assert that certain sectors would be better off under the sequester," Cantor said. "I believe this is false and would unnecessarily induce more uncertainty and a worse policy outcome."