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Senate rejects budget cuts in victory for Catholic advocates

 |  NCR Today

In what seems to be a victory for Catholic social ministry advocates, the U.S. Senate today rejected two budget proposals that would have exacted massive cuts in federal spending for domestic social programs and international aid.

The Huffington Post reports that Senate Democrats voted down a House Republican bill that would have cut $57 billion from current funding levels. The bill failed 56 to 44.

Catholic activists and advocates have been vocal in their disagreement with the House budget bill, which cuts poverty-focused international assistance by 27 percent.

Representatives with Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. bishops conference said those cuts are “disproportionate” and don’t “share the sacrifice with the rest of society" on a Feb. 28 conference call.

Because Congress didn't approve a full-year budget plan last fall, it must pass and President Obama must sign a "continuing resolution" to keep the federal government operating until the end of the fiscal year. The deadline is March 18.

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From the Huffington Post's report:

By holding the test votes on Wednesday, Senate Democratic leadership sought to reframe the debate over funding the government, which must be done before March 18 to prevent government shutdown. House Republicans have so far held most of the cards, and succeeded in passing a two-week stopgap funding bill last week that cut government funding by $4 billion.

House GOP leaders have said they will support future short-term bills, but only if they continue to trim $2 billion per week from the budget. The White House floated the idea of about $6 billion more in cuts, which could indicate a three-week funding bill as the House and Senate work out a compromise on a longer-term solution.

Senate Democrats say they hope to gain leverage in the next round of negotiations now that they've voted down the House proposal. Leadership met with Obama at the White House on Wednesday before the vote to discuss the budget stalemate.

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