By ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — Moving to protect the military from a crippling wave of budget cuts next year, a key House committee voted Monday to cut instead food aid, health care and social services like Meals on Wheels.
The measure would require federal employees to contribute more to their pensions, saving taxpayers more than $80 billion over the coming decade, while illegal immigrants would be denied tax refunds from the $1,000 per-child tax credit. There's no companion legislation moving in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the proposal doesn't stand a chance of making it to President Barack Obama's desk for signature.
But the vote was a symbolic swipe at Obama in an election year focused on the economy.
The cuts approved by the Republican-controlled Budget Committee total more than $300 billion over the coming decade. The panel approved them on a party-line 21-9 vote; the full House is scheduled to vote on the measure on Thursday.
The proposed reductions in the bill are but a fraction of those called for in the broader, nonbinding budget plan that passed the House in March. They are aimed less at taming trillion dollar-plus deficits than preventing the Pentagon from absorbing a 10 percent, $55 billion automatic budget cut in January because last year's deficit "supercommittee" couldn't reach a deal.
The Obama administration and lawmakers in both parties warn the defense cuts would harm readiness and weapons procurement, and reduce troop levels.
One-fourth of the House GOP spending cuts come from programs directly benefiting the poor, such as Medicaid, food stamps, the Socialmbraced by Obama and military leaders.
The overall bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 totals $642 billion — a base budget of $554 billion plus $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan and the counterterrorism fight. House Republicans boosted spending on defense by $3.7 billion above Obama's military budget proposal, which had already boosted such spending by $4.6 billion above levels called for in last summer's budget and debt pact.