House Speaker Mike Johnson and former President Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump listens as House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a press conference on April 12, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With Attention on Presidential Contest, GOP Goes on Austerity Rampage

One leading Democrat warned Republicans' spending proposals would "demolish public education" and "let corporate price gouging run rampant."

With much of the public's attention on the looming presidential election and high-stakes jockeying over who will take on Donald Trump in November, congressional Republicans in recent weeks have provided a stark look at their plans for federal spending should their party win back control of the presidency and the Senate.

The appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins in October, is currently underway, with congressional committees engaging in government funding debates that are likely to continue beyond the November elections.

In keeping with their longstanding support for austerity for ordinary Americans, Republicans in the House and Senate have proposed steep cuts to a wide range of federal programs and agencies dealing with education, environmental protection, Social Security, election administration, national parks, nutrition assistance, antitrust enforcement, global health, and more—all while they pursue additional deficit-exploding tax giveaways for the rich.

"Some of the most concerning policy riders in the House Fiscal Year 2025 budget bills include mandates for new oil and gas leasing, prohibitions on the establishment of important protected areas for wildlife and natural ecosystems, and limitations that hinder federal agency ability to regulate polluters, putting water quality, air quality, and the climate at risk," the Surfrider Foundation noted in a statement earlier this week.

"Two of the key federal agencies that administer these programs are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), yet the House budget bills call for a 20% funding cut to the EPA, and a 12% funding cut to NOAA," the group added.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has been attempting to sound the alarm over the GOP's proposals, which she has warned would "demolish public education," endanger the health of women and children, gut mental health programs, "let corporate price gouging run rampant," and "expose children to dangerous products."

"I respectfully request that those on the other side of the aisle go back to the drawing board and come back with a new slate of workable subcommittee allocations across all 12 bills so that we can proceed with the important business of our 2025 appropriations work," DeLauro said during a markup hearing last month.

But Republican lawmakers have made clear that they are bent on pursuing steep cuts across the federal government, proposing spending levels well below the caps implemented by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, legislation that suspended the debt limit through January 1, 2025.

"House Republicans now intend to fund 2025 non-defense appropriations bills 6% below the 2024 level rather than provide the 1% increase" negotiated in 2023, noted David Reich, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Republicans in the Senate have also pushed for damaging cuts to non-military spending as the upper chamber prepares to hold markup hearings for its appropriations bills next week.

The Food Research & Action Center warned in a recent statement that legislation put forth by the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee would slash Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by $30 billion over the next decade, jeopardizing critical food aid for tens of millions of people as hunger rises.

According to a May report by Feeding America, "the extra amount of money that people facing hunger said they need to have enough food" has "reached its highest point in the last 20 years."

Congressional Republicans' spending proposals for next fiscal year are in line with the draconian cuts pushed by Project 2025, a sweeping far-right agenda from which Trump—the presumptive GOP presidential nominee—is attempting to distance himself as horror grows over the initiative's vision for the country.

Project 2025's 922-page policy document calls for more punitive work requirements for SNAP recipients, massive cuts to Medicaid, the abolition of the Department of Education, the elimination of major clean energy programs, and the gutting of key Wall Street regulations.

"Despite Trump's claims to have 'nothing to do with' Project 2025, his administration and campaign personnel contributed to the project," The Intercept's Shawn Musgrave wrote Friday. "Former Trump administration officials wrote and edited massive chunks of the manifesto. One of its two primary editors, Paul Dans, who directs the Heritage Foundation's 2025 Presidential Transition Project, served as the White House liaison for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration, among other positions."

"Rick Dearborn, who was briefly Trump's deputy chief of staff, wrote the White House chapter," Musgrave added. "Russ Vought, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote the chapter on OMB and similar executive offices."

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