Key Committee : Beilenson, Berman Win Budget Posts
Reps. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) and Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Tarzana) won appointment Wednesday to the powerful House Budget Committee, a key panel in the upcoming high-stakes negotiations to reduce the federal deficit.
In addition, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) was appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said the assignment will enable him to help boost California’s growing trade within the Pacific Rim.
Berman and Beilenson were among six new representatives appointed to 6-year terms on the 35-member budget panel. The committee’s 21 Democrats include four Californians. Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D-Monterey) is the newly appointed chairman.
“The single greatest issue Congress faces is the $150-billion imbalance between federal spending and revenues,” said Beilenson, a long-time critic of tax and spending policies that contributed to the deficit.
“It overrides every other action of the federal government, and it must be dealt with before we can get on with meeting very pressing national needs, such as those in the areas of health care, education, child care and transportation.”
Despite President-elect George Bush’s vow not to raise taxes, Berman and Beilenson each said they believe that a combination of tax increases as well as spending cuts will be needed to significantly reduce the red ink. The Reagan Administration’s estimate of the shortfall is $127 billion, less than Congress’ projection.
Berman, who said he had lobbied for the budget appointment for 6 months, defined his priorities as reducing spending without sparking a recession or trimming “those programs that have been most neglected over the past years.”
Housing, Foreign Aid
He cited housing and foreign aid as areas hard-hit by Reagan cuts. He said he was most concerned about aid to Israel and developmental assistance to poorer Third World countries.
“As the peace process moves forward, I can’t think of anything worse than cutting our aid to Israel and giving them a sense we’re going to do things that are going to undermine Israel’s national security,” Berman said.
Gallegly, a second-term representative, pledged to work with the Bush Administration to continue the foreign policies he said have promoted freedom and democracy worldwide for the past 8 years.
“In addition, California’s continued prosperity depends on expanding markets for our products overseas,” Gallegly said in a news release. “I will work hard to promote exports, and to ensure that our trading partners practice truly fair trade policies.”