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Senate Budget Committee chairman Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) (R) and House Budget Committee chairman Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) hold a news conference to introduce The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Senate Budget Committee chairman Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) (R) and House Budget Committee chairman Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) hold a news conference to introduce The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  

Ryan-Murray budget cuts federal energy program

The budget agreement between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray cuts a federal energy program designed to research oil and natural-gas technologies.

The “Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research Program” was established in 2005 as a public-private partnership to “develop technologies to increase America’s domestic oil and gas production and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign imports.”

The Ryan-Murray budget cuts this program, saving taxpayers $50 million per year, according to the lawmakers’ budget proposal. The proposal would also make permanent the requirement that states receiving royalties for federal land leases help pay for some of the costs of managing the lands being leased. According to the budget, this would save $15 million over 10 years.

The budget agreement would set discretionary spending at slightly over $1 trillion — a compromise between the House and Senate budgets — and would provide $63 billion in “sequester relief” for the military and other federal programs for two years, which would be offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. In total, the deficit would be reduced by $23 billion, according to the proposal.

Sequestration refers to the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that happened earlier this year after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on funding the federal government. Sequestration lowered spending by about $1.1 trillion over the next eight years, with most of the reductions falling on defense spending.

It was hotly opposed by defense hawks, who said it was essentially gutting the military at a time when funding for U.S. defense capabilities was crucial.  Murray and Ryan are confident that they can get enough support to pass Congress and get to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed.

“This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction to prevent another government shutdown and roll back sequestration’s cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way,” said Murray, a Washington Democrat. “It’s a good step in the right direction that can hopefully rebuild some trust and serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.”

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