The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 11, 2013

Lawmakers: Spending cuts likely to bite more next year

WASHINGTON — It’s not just longstanding battles over taxes and curbing mandatory spending that are obstacles to a year-end pact on the budget. Another problem is a perception among some lawmakers that the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration haven’t been as harsh as advertised.

Indeed, the first year of the automatic cuts didn’t live up to the dire predictions from the Obama administration and others who warned of sweeping furloughs and big disruptions of government services.

But the second round is going to be a lot worse, lawmakers and budget experts say. One reason is that federal agencies that have emptied the change jar and searched beneath the sofa cushions for money to ease the pain of sequestration have been so far able to make it through the automatic cuts relatively unscathed. Employee furloughs haven’t been as extensive as feared and agencies were able to maintain most services.

Most of that money, however, has been spent in the 2013 budget year that ended on Sept. 30.

The Pentagon used more than $5 billion in unspent money from previous years to ease its $39 billion budget cut. Furloughs originally scheduled for 11 days were cut back to six days. The Justice Department found more than $500 million in similar money that allowed agencies like the FBI to avoid furloughs altogether.

Finding replacement cuts is the priority of budget talks scheduled to resume this week, but many observers think the talks won’t bear fruit. Both sides appear to see leverage. Democrats are hoping that $20 billion in new Pentagon cuts below levels imposed by sequestration will force Republicans to yield. Republicans say far more of their members are willing to keep the cuts, which appears to have added to the resolve of GOP negotiators.

A failure of the talks, led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, D-Wash., would mean that agencies that have thus far withstood the harshest effects of the across-the-board cuts in 2013 would get hit with a second round of cuts that’ll feel a lot worse than the first.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Traps set in New Jersey lake while animal control searches for snake

    JEFFERSON, N.J. — Reports of a 16-foot-long exotic snake — possibly an anaconda — slithering through New Jersey’s largest lake have stoked fears among residents and led to searches and questions about what exactly is in the water....

    July 23, 2014

  • Airlines cancel air traffic after rocket attack

    JERUSALEM — A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Remains of victims from Malaysian airliner crash transported by train to Ukrainian controlled territory

    KHARKIV, Ukraine — A train bearing the dead from the downed Malaysian airliner reached Ukrainian government-held territory at long last Tuesday, but the pro-Russian separatists in control of the crash site showed little willingness to ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Contrarian’s case: Why the U.S. could be dragged down by struggling world economies?

    NEW YORK — Just as the U.S. economy is strengthening, other countries are threatening to drag it down....

    July 23, 2014

  • Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s health care law is snarled in another big legal battle, with two federal appeals courts issuing contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday....

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama nominee pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs pledged Tuesday to transform the beleaguered agency, saying that “systematic failures” must be addressed....

    July 23, 2014

  • Friend is first convicted in Boston Marathon probe

    BOSTON — The conviction of a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for impeding the investigation into the bombings has his lawyers wondering if anyone else who faces charges connected to the 2013 attack stands a ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Rebels release train with bodies from jet

    HRABOVE, Ukraine — Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll passes 560

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Perry sending Guard troops to border

    AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally. ...

    July 22, 2014