Leaner budget finds support in Congress
As the deficit-cutting ‘super committee’ continues its work, the U.S. House and Senate approved a $130.4 billion budget Thursday for five Cabinet-level departments.
The appropriations bill, which divided North Carolina’s two Senators, sets the 2012 budgets for the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.
Senator Kay Hagan, who supported the spending plan, notes that the bill includes $39.1 billion for federal highway funding, as well as $1.7 billion in emergency disaster funding to assist states in rebuilding federal highways that were damaged by major natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irene.
For the Department of Agriculture, $80.4 billion is allocated for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $18.2 billion for child nutrition programs including school lunch and breakfast programs, and $6.6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The bill also earmarks $50 million in security funding for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next year.
But in an effort to create a leaner federal government, the bill also scales back spending in several areas. That meant eliminating $8 billion President Obama had requested for high-speed rail. Also gone from the 2012 spending bill was a climate change office for NOAA. Other losers included the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which saw $35 million cut from the program designed to increase access to healthy, affordable food in communities that lack such options.