The cuts are a first-year down payment on $1.2 trillion in reductions spread over 10 years, which were to be split evenly between the military and domestic programs.
To forestall the defense hit, the GOP proposal would cut funding for food stamps, eliminate key pieces of the federal health-care law and slash funding designed to help the government better monitor the financial sector.
The package would cut $36 billion from the food stamp program by reducing benefits to recipients and tightening eligibility. It would cut Medicaid by $22.7 billion and eliminate a new fund devoted to preventive care established in the Democratic health-care reform law.
The measure would save $2.8 billion by ending a program that helps homeowners facing foreclosure and $22.6 billion by ending federal regulators’ new authority to shut down struggling financial firms deemed big enough to threaten the economy.
The package would save $18.4 billion this year and $261.5 billion over the next 10 years.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that the planned vote amounts to Republicans reneging on commitments made as part of the debt deal, which had envisioned the across-the-board cut as a consequence for Democrats and Republicans unable to reach a bipartisan deal on a better way to reduce the debt.
He suggested that Senate Democrats were willing to let the defense cuts take effect if Republicans do not budge on including some higher tax revenue in an alternative debt deal.
“Those cuts were designed to be tough enough to force lawmakers to compromise,” Reid said. “They were designed to be tough enough to force the two sides to reach a balanced deal.”
Fearful of the impact of the defense cuts — which would amount to a 10 percent hit to the military — GOP leaders said they are compelled to act.
“We’re leading. We’re planning. We’re showing specifics,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday. “We’re showing the American people how, if Congress does its job, we can actually . . . prevent this [cut] from disproportionately decimating our military at a time when we’re asking our men and women to sacrifice for our freedoms.”
The Democratic-held Senate opposes the Republican proposal and members of both parties have said they think the automatic cuts ultimately could be replaced only as part of a major bipartisan deal that would not be struck until after the November election.
But Republicans said it is important to lay out a GOP vision for how to curb red ink without the defense cuts and asserted that voters would reward them for advancing tough choices.