By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After seeking to impose substantial spending cuts on a wide range of non-defense programs this year, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to keep its own administrative budget unchanged.
House lawmakers then left Washington for a week-long recess.
The $1.23 billion budget for fiscal 2013 House operations - including staff salaries, member expenses and committee budgets - was approved on a 307-102 vote as part of a $3.33 billion spending bill for the legislative branch of the federal government.
The House portion of the budget was kept unchanged after being cut the two previous fiscal years, marking a 10.5 percent reduction since 2010.
The House has voted to make deep cuts to a number of social programs, such as food stamps and the Medicaid health care program for the poor, in order to protect defense spending from automatic spending cuts. The House has approved, on average, cuts of around 5 percent to federal agency budgets and other discretionary spending from last year.
Speaker John Boehner last week defended the House's plans to keep its own budget unchanged.
"Listen, the House has taken cuts two fiscal years in a row, and the Appropriations Committee went through a very detailed process of listening to members, listening to House officers, in terms of what the budget should be," Boehner told reporters. "And I think a budget freeze is the appropriate course of action."
House leadership offices would see a cut of $5.8 million in salaries and expenses next year, but overall House expenses - including employee benefits, supplies and certain legal costs - would rise by $9.8 million.
VETO, SHUTDOWN THREATS
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto all of the spending bills passed by the Republican-controlled House because they go below an overall $1.047 trillion cap on discretionary spending that was part of last summer's deal to end a standoff over the U.S. debt limit.
The Senate has not yet passed any of its spending bills, including appropriations for Senate operations. Bills approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee adhere to the budget deal cap, setting up a confrontation over government agency funding that could threaten a government shutdown as the current fiscal year nears its September 30 close.
The overall legislative branch budget was $34.4 million below last year, but the bulk of that comes from a $52.4 million cut in the Capitol buildings and grounds budget. The House bill also rejected a request for $61.2 million to start a long-term project to rehabilitate of the Capitol's iconic dome.
The Capitol Police, which provides security to the complex, would get a $20 million increase under the House measure.
(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Leslie Adler)