Boehner: 'Read my lips,' GOP will cut spending

House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday, By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer


WASHINGTON(CNNMoney) -- House Republicans on Thursday continued on their mission to cut billions of dollars from the current year's budget.

"When we say we are going to cut spending, read my lips: We are going to cut spending," said House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday.

He added that the House wouldn't pass a budget that doesn't cut spending, fueling new speculation of a possible government shutdown when current stop-gap funding measures run out March 4.

Republicans have vowed to cull $60 billion from the fiscal 2011 budget, in their first big opportunity to make good on campaign promises to rid Washington of mounting deficits and government spending.

Some of the more controversial amendment votes expected later Thursday would determine funding for family planning and the major health care expansion Congress passed last year.

Earlier Thursday, lawmakers took their scalpel to arts funding, slashing $20 million from the National Endowment for the Arts and $4.5 million from National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs. They also voted to retain a big $390 million cut aimed at heating subsidies to poor households.

Lawmakers also on Thursday defunded the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to enact new so-called "Net neutrality" rules, which give the agency regulatory power over Internet service providers.

Republican lawmakers also agreed to cut funding to eight "czars," or top presidential or federal agency advisers who aren't confirmed by the Senate, including the pay czar charged with watching executive compensation at TARP-funded banks. And they also blocked an effort to blunt some $50 million in cuts to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

One of the largest additional budget cuts happened Wednesday, when lawmakers of both parties agreed to an amendment stripping $450 million slated to build a new engine for the F-35 fighter jet.

Not everything gets the ax

However, for all the rhetoric, lawmakers are also voting to avert some major cuts. They agreed to restore funding that would keep some firefighters and police officers on the payroll through September, despite an $800 million tab for both.

On Thursday, lawmakers voted on amendments to protect $450 million slated for Amtrak train service, as well as another $200 million in financial help for struggling nations abroad.

Earlier this week, Boehner raised eyebrows when he predicted budget cuts could cost some federal jobs, adding, "so be it."

However, on Thursday he backed off the tough love stance.

"Listen, I don't want anyone to lose their job whether they are a federal employee or not. But come on! We're broke!," Boehner said. "We've got to make tough decisions and the American people sent their representatives here to Washington to make tough decisions on their behalf.

Late Wednesday, Democrats accused Republicans of killing jobs and hurting the economy. They cited a report by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, which gets funding from labor unions, that $60 billion in cuts would result in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in both the public and private sectors.

Final House vote could be delayed

House leaders had wanted to pass the budget by Thursday, but the timing is now uncertain, as the process has taken more time than expected.

The Senate isn't expected to take up the measure until later this month. Then the chambers will likely have to negotiate the differences and come to a compromise.

The White House has vowed to veto the budget if it contains the deep cuts that House Republican are proposing.

Although the 2011 budget up for debate only covers the next seven months, March through September, the clock is ticking to pass something soon. The current stop-gap measure that's keeping the lights on at federal agencies expires March 4.

If lawmakers fail to pass a budget -- or at least another stop-gap measure -- by March 4, the federal government could be shut down like it was during the GOP showdown with the Clinton administration in 1995.

Other deep cuts on the table would slash food subsidies for children of poor mothers, funding for early childhood development programs that help low-income children, and special education programs at schools.

Many amendments are aimed at undoing White House priorities, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to cut greenhouse gases. Late Wednesday, House Democrats largely abandoned efforts to save those programs, hoping that they'd have more success keeping environmental funding with negotiations with the Senate.

-- CNN producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,156.85 24.88 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,562.19 9.43 0.21%
S&P 500 2,001.57 2.59 0.13%
Treasuries 2.60 0.01 0.42%
Data as of 7:40pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.77 0.06 0.36%
Apple Inc 101.58 0.72 0.71%
Yahoo! Inc 42.59 -0.12 -0.28%
Microsoft Corp 46.52 -0.24 -0.51%
Alcoa Inc 16.28 0.12 0.74%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

Profit was nearly cut in half for Pier 1 Imports during the most recent quarter. More

The Federal Reserve is probably not going to raise interest rates until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. More

Apple's new HealthKit platform, set for release in conjunction with the new iOS8, has been delayed by a bug. More

Frederick Hutson launched Pigeon.ly in 2012 to help inmates communicate with their friends and family. He's on target for $1 million in sales this year. More

Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt says it has abolished nearly $4 million in private student loan debt for students who attended Everest College, part of Corinthian Colleges. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.