In a legislative move designed to address deficit reduction and put the burden to avert the "fiscal cliff" on the White House and Senate Democrats, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, sponsored a $237.8 billion spending reduction bill that narrowly passed the House on Thursday night.
Cantor's Spending Reduction Act of 2012 was designed as a companion to the "Plan B" legislation sponsored by House Speaker John Boehner that aimed to keep in place Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class but raise revenues by allowing them to expire for Americans with incomes above $1 million. The Plan B bill was abruptly pulled Thursday night.
Cantor's measure passed by a vote of 215-209 and now moves on to the Senate.
"If the president can't seem to come to an agreement with the speaker, this bill together with the tax bill today are the measures that are going to be available to avoid the largest tax hike in American history and avoid the kind of reckless spending we've been about in this town," Cantor said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier Thursday.
He said his bill replaces cuts expected to occur under budget sequestration in the next year with reductions that protect national security, preserve Virginia jobs and add more than $200 billion in savings for deficit reduction over 10 years. The cuts focus on eliminating fraud and bailouts, and spending by federal agencies without bureaucratic oversight.
Included in the Cantor bill:
--Place stricter controls on the process for food stamp eligibility that would prevent automatic qualification by simply calling an 800 number.
--Take away the authority granted to FDIC administrators under the Dodd-Frank Act to bail out creditors of "too big to fail" institutions without oversight.
--Remove the authority of the secretary of health and human services to determine the funds allocated for grants to states to purchase health plans in their insurance exchanges without congressional oversight.
--Place the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the congressional appropriations process.
--Enact legislation to restrict lawsuits against health care providers.
"You've got to have the spending cuts, because the problem here is the mountain of unfunded liabilities that the federal government continues to incur, and that's why this bill is an important complement," Cantor said.
A White House blog entry by deputy press secretary Amy Brundage said Cantor's legislation would harm middle-class families.
The blog said the Spending Reduction Act entirely eliminates funding for services like Meals on Wheels by getting rid of the Social Services Block Grant, as well as federal funding for child care services for millions of disabled and at-risk children.
The blog said the act would dismantle programs that help homeowners avoid foreclosures, and that action taken to change the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would significantly weaken protections on credit cards, mortgages and loans.
Earlier Thursday, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in remarks on the Senate floor that Plan B "would do nothing to make a significant dent in the fiscal challenges. And I think many of us on our side and I imagine many on the Republican side will realize that is not an approach that will get us where we need to go."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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