March 11, 2005

CRAPO: TIGHT BUDGET PRIORITIZES DEBT, SECURITY

Also addresses issues of interest to INL, Micron, and lumber industry

Washington, DC â?? The Senate Budget Committee has voted to approve a budget blueprint that reduces the deficit, but still gives priority to homeland security and defense spending. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Budget Committee, supported the blueprint and expects the final document sent to the Senate will assume funding for new nuclear research at the Idaho National Laboratory and language beneficial to Idahoâ??s largest private employer, Micron Technology. â??This is a bare-bones budget blueprint, one that will cut the deficit in half in five years and one that still funds homeland security and national defense, which have to be our priorities at this stage,â?? Crapo said. â??While this document is only a blueprint, the budget also assumes the funding necessary for a demonstration of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant by 2015. The Idaho National Laboratory is the Department of Energy's lead lab on nuclear energy research and development.â?? The Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Resolution also eliminates language that could have created questions over trade case payments related to Micron and softwood lumber. Crapo worked to delete language relating to subsidy and tariff payments which Micron and some lumber companies have collected resulting from unfair trade. The actions mean those payments will not become part of discussions related to budget setting and the U.S. Treasury. The Budget Resolution was approved by a 12-10 margin in committee and now goes to the Senate floor. It would cut deficits from a projected $362 billion next year to $208 billion in 2010. The $843.4 billion provided in discretionary spending (outside the more fixed cost of living related programs like Social Security) is in line with President Bushâ??s budget request. â??The deficit and war against terror mean lean budgets, but we are seeking to extend tax policies that are stimulating economic growth while keeping education programs like Pell Grants, welfare and pension programs intact,â?? Crapo said. â??The budget also envisions a comprehensive national energy policy, something that is long overdue and which will assist not only our financial picture but our independence from foreign oil.â?? Crapo added the budget document also guards against future temptations for excess federal spending. â??For the first time in almost ten years, this budget resolution is addressing the fastest growing part of our federal spending. The reconciliation instructions in this resolution will provide for a positive first step in reducing the rate of growth of mandatory spending, which by 2015, will make up two-thirds of all federal spending. This budget resolution also contains new budget enforcement provisions, which will make it more difficult for Congress to recklessly increase spending or to pass unfunded mandates on to the states,â?? he concluded. # # #