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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Top Republican: Stop 'unrealistic' sequestration cuts

In a surprisingly frank statement released Wednesday, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee is warning his own party that deep across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to go into effect next year as part of the ongoing budget “sequestration” are unsustainable.

"Sequestration -- and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts -- must be brought to an end,” Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said in the statement.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., before the House Rules Committee at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.

Rogers points to the decision of House leaders to nix a vote on a pending bill to set aside money for federal transportation and housing and urban development programs as evidence that the government simply can’t continue to try to operate at reduced funding levels.

House Republican leaders said that the bill was pulled because of scheduling issues ahead of the August recess. But Rogers claims that there simply isn't enough support to pass the “austere” appropriations measure.

"The bill today reflected the best possible effort, under an open process, to fund programs important to the American people - including our highway, air and rail systems, housing for our poorest families, and improvements to local communities - while also making the deep cuts necessary under the current budget cap,” he said. “In order to abide by sequestration budget levels, this bill cut $4.4 billion below the current, post-sequestration total to a level below what was approved for these programs in 2006 - over seven years ago.”

The move also underscores the looming battle over funding the government in the coming months before September 30th, when current funding is scheduled to expire.

Aides say that Congress may not send any appropriations bills to the president’s desk for his signature at all this year, instead just relying on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep current spending levels where they are. That’s likely to set up future budget battles when the temporary funding for the government runs out.

NBC's Carrie Dann contributed to this report.