The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has voted to cut about $US61 billion ($A60.
43 billion) in government spending, setting the stage for a bruising political battle with Democrats who control the Senate and the White House. The 235-189 partisan-line vote came early on Saturday after a dramatic all-night session rife with political posturing and heated debate. The measure is largely expected to be blocked in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where many of the approved cuts are opposed. But a stalemate could have serious political consequences. Since members of Congress were unable to agree on a budget last year, the US government is funded through a stop-gap spending measure, which expires on March 4. Experts warned that increasingly nasty verbal sparring and finger-pointing in the US Congress could lead to a failure to adopt a replacement, triggering a government shutdown. The approved cuts included measures to deny funds for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating industries that are emitting greenhouse gases and to limit the government’s role in education. One of the approved amendments would even bar salaries for government workers implementing the law. “The quickest way to achieve savings, if you have to do it very fast, is cutting off pay cheques,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a think tank that advocates fiscal responsibility. “It’s the easiest way to do it.” Republicans were jubilant. “It’s democracy in action,” Republican Speaker John Boehner told reporters before the vote. Democrats dismayed But Democrats, who unanimously voted against the blueprint, were dismayed. “Defunding health care reform will leave behind thousands I represent in Wisconsin,” said Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin. One of the approved amendments called for halting funding for Planned Parenthood, a family planning organisation. Since opening the debate on Tuesday, the House has also voted to scrap funds for a second engine for the F-35 fighter aircraft, restore money for police officers and firefighters, and eliminate funding for the US Institute of Peace as well as the East-West Centre — which Congress envisioned as a bridge to Asia. But not all of the Republican proposals saw the light of day. The House defeated a Republican proposal to withhold dues to the United Nations pushed by Representative Paul Broun, who had said Washington’s yearly contribution was like throwing money down “rat holes”. The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying more than $US2.5 billion ($A2.48 billion) to the UN peacekeeping and regular budgets last year. They have also rejected an amendment to cut $US400 million ($A396.26 million) from a fund to build up war-torn Afghanistan’s infrastructure, and another to eliminate the $US1.5 billion ($A1.49 billion) Iraq Security Forces Fund. And they defeated a push to withhold money critical to settling a cotton subsidy feud with Brazil in a 246-183 ballot. Narrow window for compromise The House and Senate are in recess next week, giving lawmakers a narrow window to agree on a compromise measure and making it increasingly likely that the Congress will have to adopt a short-term spending bill. But Speaker Boehner warned on Thursday that he would not accept any measure that did not markedly reduce spending — a step that, if rejected by the Senate, would trigger a government shutdown. “When we say we’re going to cut spending — Read my lips: We’re going to cut spending,” he told reporters. Republicans have vowed to largely spare the Pentagon, and keep aid to Israel and Egypt intact, but say Washington needs to tighten its belt to deflate its yearly budget deficit and reduce its swollen national debt. Democrats have broadly agreed on the need for austerity, but have denounced an array of foreign aid cuts in the bill, warning that paring back the State Department’s funds could notably hurt its efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.