Instead, the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including [...] $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families.
….The spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama’s $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants -- crediting themselves with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year.
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks….Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.
Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule -- used for years by appropriators -- placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.