House Republicans on Thursday approved a budget blueprint that includes more than $500 billion in cuts to food stamps, unemployment benefits and education programs.
The budget, which is expected to be formally introduced by Speaker Paul Ryan in the coming days, also includes cuts to federal spending on domestic and foreign aid, but did not include new spending on Medicare.
The $5.5 trillion measure also does not include a tax cut for individuals or households earning more than about $250,000 a year, as the House is expected do in a vote later this week.
The plan is a step toward an end to the stalemate over the debt ceiling that has stalled for months, with the House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, predicting a new round of negotiations by March 31 if the fiscal cliff standoff is not resolved by then.
The House Republican plan would increase federal spending by $4.5 billion over the next decade, including $1.1 billion in the next two years for health care.
The cuts would come in addition to $1 billion more in spending cuts for domestic and international programs.
House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to approve the blueprint on Thursday, after the White House and some Republicans demanded that the plan include a $500 million aid package to help unemployed Americans who are seeking work.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that the House Republicans’ $5,000 aid package is a way to help the unemployed and to keep our economy working and growing.
“The House Republicans budget, if approved by the full House, will help help people and businesses across our country and is not a tax increase,” McCarthy said.
“This is the first step in the process of addressing our nation’s chronic unemployment, and we can only hope that this is just the first of many steps to improve our economy and help hard-working Americans get back on their feet.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who is a member of the House Budget Committee, praised the House GOP for agreeing to include $500.
He said in an interview with Fox News that the Republican plan includes a $1 trillion increase in aid for the unemployed.
“It’s a good start, it’s not a deal breaker,” Meadows said.
But he said the $1,000-per-month subsidy is a “substantial” cut that will make it harder for families to afford the $500-per, month assistance.
He also noted that the GOP budget would not include an additional $2.5-billion cut to education aid.
“That’s going to have a huge impact on education and our schools,” Meadows added.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the plan is “a big, big step backwards” for the middle class.
“We need to make sure we are spending this money wisely and giving people the resources they need,” she said.
Democrats also criticized the House budget for a $3 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income Americans buy food and other basic supplies.
That cut is part of a package of $2 billion cuts that House Republicans passed Thursday, including a $2-billion decrease in the food stamp program.
“Our budget doesn’t address SNAP,” Pelosi said on MSNBC.
“What we have to do is look at SNAP.
I have seen SNAP cut by more than half in this process, so this is a very big deal.”
Democrats are pressing the GOP on the $2 trillion food stamp cut to make the House plan include an extra $2,500 subsidy for households earning less than $150,000.
Pelosi said she does not believe there is enough support to make that $2 million subsidy permanent.
“I don’t think we are going to get $2M,” she told MSNBC.
In a statement, McCarthy said the House’s $500 food stamp increase will “help low- and moderate-income families” who need it most.
“If the Senate passes the bill, we will be able to deliver this $2 Million food stamp aid to more than 11 million Americans, including the roughly 11 million children living in poverty,” McCarthy’s statement said.
House Democrats have said the bill should include a separate $2 food stamp subsidy for families making less than half a million a year.
The bill is expected at the White Trump’s desk for a vote on Friday.
Republicans have been trying to pass a budget with a bipartisan coalition of Senate Democrats and House Republicans since March to avoid a government shutdown that would force Republicans to vote on a spending package they are not comfortable with.
The White House said Thursday that the Senate was poised to pass its budget by Thursday.
The Senate will vote on its budget on Friday, and then the House will vote to approve a second budget.
Democrats have threatened to force a government shut down if Republicans fail to pass their budget.
“There’s nothing in this budget that doesn’t include a deal with Democrats,” Rep. Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday.