WASHINGTON — Even as they press cuts to food stamps and a host of other domestic programs, Republicans running the House of Representatives are shielding their own office expense accounts from further cuts.
In draft legislation supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, the House Appropriations Committee would instead freeze the $574 million budget for lawmakers’ staff, travel and office expenses.
The spending freeze announced Thursday came as Republicans are rewriting last summer’s budget accord to press cuts to non-defense-agency budgets by about 5 percent on average.
The overall $3.3 billion Capitol Hill funding bill would absorb a 1 percent cut that comes from cutting back the budget for repairing the Capitol dome, which dates to the Civil War.
“I’d prefer the dome remain a monument to our nation’s greatness and not become a symbol for short-sighted austerity,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash.
An Appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to approve the measure today before lawmakers exit Washington for a week-long vacation.
In two earlier rounds of appropriations bills for 2011 and 2012, Republicans imposed a 10.5 percent budget cut on the House. Their office budgets have been cut by a total of 13 percent from the record $660 million approved by a Democratic-controlled Congress for 2010.
“The nation’s budget challenges are far from over, and Congress must continue to lead by example and hold the reins on spending wherever possible, including in our own Capitol complex,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.
“At the same time, we must maintain the efficacy of the people’s House, and ensure the safety and security of the thousands of people who work in and visit our historic buildings every day.
“This bill balances both of these needs.”