House Republicans Unveil Budget Details

Photo and Story by Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

House Republicans unveiled over night the details of the budget deal hatched on Friday, right at the deadline before a government shutdown.

It cuts more than $38 billion from this year’s budget, which runs until October.

The Congress will vote on the plan’s details this week. Its passage is likely since the top Republican in the House, the top Democrat in the Senate, and President Obama have all given their approval.

Alaska’s delegation is generally supporting it. Republican Congressman Don Young says bottom line – he doesn’t want to see a government shutdown. And he’s more worried about the fight over next year’s budget – which is already brewing.

The Denali Commission is getting funding for $10.7 million, down from the $12 million that had been proposed. There is a lingering question over $15 million in funds that the commission had carried over from various funding streams and then obligated to other projects. Congress says they want the $15 million back. If rescinding those funds stands, that could have a big impact on rural Alaska projects.

The program that gives low income heating assistance, LIHEAP, suffers a cut of $390 million.

Senator Mark Begich says that (LIHEAP) cut is his biggest concern because the program helps 11,000 Alaskan families.

Despite that, Begich says at this point he’s inclined to support the overall deal.

Begich is also watching the nearly $1 billion in cuts to grants for the clean water projects for local governments and Native tribes. That’s part of a $1.6 billion cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Begich says because this bill was centered around spending, they couldn’t make revenue policy decisions – like trying to eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy. He says those arguments are looming though. Just like Congressman Young, Begich says the big focus will soon be on next year’s budget, and he says brace for a big fight.

Photo: Congressman Don Young and Senator Mark Begich speak to the press.

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