| WASHINGTON, March 21
WASHINGTON, March 21 Republicans in the U.S.
House of Representatives plan to vote in April on a budget plan
that sticks to 2015 spending levels but reaches balance in 10
years, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Friday.
Cantor, in a memo to lawmakers, said the plan from House
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will be part of his
legislative agenda in the next three weeks before a mid-April
Ryan is expected to start the process of drafting his fiscal
2015 budget resolution next Tuesday, when the House Budget
Committee he chairs gathers suggestions from House members in a
Republicans have complained that President Barack Obama's
budget request proposed discretionary spending levels that were
above those set in a two-year budget deal negotiated last year
between Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.
While Obama's plan offered ways to offset the increased
spending, some Republican lawmakers have said it was important
to stick to the Ryan-Murray agreement.
"While the president's budget blows past the spending limit
previously agreed to, the House Republican budget, under the
leadership of Chairman Paul Ryan, will adhere to the agreed upon
spending limits and balance in ten years," Cantor said in the
memo to House Republicans.
Ryan's Republican budget last year reached balance in 10
years largely through deep cuts to social programs, including
the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor. It aimed to shield
the military from automatic "sequester" spending cuts, and
maintained Ryan's controversial plan to effectively convert the
Medicare program for the elderly into a voucher for seniors to
purchase private insurance, a plan that reaps savings further in
Cantor's memo appeared to allow for a possible shift of
funds from domestic programs to defense spending. Following
Russia's moves to occupy and annex Ukraine's Crimean peninsula,
pressure from Republican lawmakers to cancel more of the defense
spending cuts is likely to increase.
His memo did not mention anything about maintaining the
current split between defense and domestic discretionary
spending, a provision Democrats see as critical to passage of
the normal spending bills needed to keep the government agencies
operating after Oct. 1.
(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Prudence Crowther)