House Budget Chairman Proposes Big Cuts In Justice Programs
By David Baumann | April 5, 2011 4:16 pm

Programs that fall under the “Administration of Justice” spending  category should receive $42.99 billion in Fiscal 2012 and remain frozen for four years after that, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says in a budget blueprint released Tuesday.

By FY2021, the programs would still receive less than they received in FY2010, under the Ryan plan. Funding for justice programs would grow to $47.97 billion by FY2021 under the Ryan plan–still well below the $51.98 billion the programs received in FY2010.

By contrast, the Obama administration has recommended that the same programs receive $53.25 billion in FY2012,  with a small drop in 2013, but increasing to $71.39 billion in FY2021.

The budget category known as “Function 750,” not only includes Justice Department programs, but also other justice-related programs operated by the federal government. The figures reflect programs that are subject to the annual appropriations process and do not include funding for entitlement programs.

Ryan said in budget documents that his goal is to make the federal budget “sustainable” by cutting the federal deficit and debt. He aims to curb the “excesses of government,” he says in the documents.

Overall, Ryan recommends cutting $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade. His plan, to be considered by the  Budget Committee Wednesday, would eliminate many programs he considers duplicate and it would freeze pay for federal workers through 2015.

However, on a program by program basis, Ryan’s plan merely is advisory. It contains the amount he would like spent on justice programs, but individual spending decisions are made by the Appropriations Committees.  Those committees often change the levels recommended by the budget committees. And the Democratically-controlled Senate surely will not accept such large cuts in federal programs.

Ryan’s plan was released as members of Congress and the president attempt to settle FY2011 spending. The federal government is operating on a continuing resolution that funds federal departments and agencies through Friday. If another continuing resolution is not enacted by then, all non-essential federal government business will stop.

Ryan proposed the cuts even though the bipartisan leadership of the House Judiciary Committee recently wrote him a letter saying Congress should be careful before cutting law enforcement programs.

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