The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

House Budget Cuts Social Programs, Environmental Protections

by Brendan Coyne

Nov. 18, 2005 – After defeating a committee-approved budget bill for the first time in a decade yesterday, the US House of Representatives worked into the early morning hours Friday to ultimately pass a budget package by a narrow, two-vote margin.

The final bill, which differs in many respects from the Senate-approved version, orders deep gouges to social spending while opening the way for the federal government to sell off millions of acres of land to corporations intent on extracting natural resources.

The 217-215 early morning vote approved legislation expected to trim about $50 billion from the federal budget over the next five years, about $15 billion more than the Senate approved in its appropriations bill earlier this month. As previously reported by The NewStandard, many of the cuts were foreseen by social program advocates, including hundreds of millions pulled from the food-stamp program, funding for child-support enforcement and cuts to guaranteed student loans.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi quickly released a statement condemning the budget as a "sham" and a "shame," and terming the bill "an attack on America's children, America's families and America's middle class."

According to an analysis by Reuters, the House budget will cut Medicaid by $12 billion and student loans by $14 billion over the next five years.

While the bill does not allow for oil drilling in the Arctic, it proposes to cut conservation funds by $504 million and clears the way for earlier-released plans to sell mineral rights in national parks, the environmental advocacy group Earth Justice noted in a statement today.

"This budget is a loss for the American people," said Marty Hayden, legislative director for the group. "While the House version does not include threats to drill for oil along our coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as earlier versions did, this budget would still cause serious harm to our public lands."

The House continued working late into the night on the budget bill, finally voting at 1:41 a.m.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

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Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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