WASHINGTON — With Democrats united in opposition, the Republican-controlled House last week approved a resolution that would balance the federal budget in a decade with no new taxes but $5 trillion in cuts to domestic programs other than defense.

WASHINGTON — With Democrats united in opposition, the Republican-controlled House last week approved a resolution that would balance the federal budget in a decade with no new taxes but $5 trillion in cuts to domestic programs other than defense.


Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., said passage of the 10-year, non-binding budget resolution would build "a brighter future for all Americans."


Families, he said, would have a more opportunity, a more effective and efficient government, access to more affordable health care choices, a healthier economy and a stronger and more secure nation.


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued that the $5 trillion in cuts would fall heaviest on average American families.


"The budget continues Republicans’ quest to empower special interest on the backs of hardworking American families," she said. "It is entirely inadequate to meet America’s needs."


The resolution was approved, 226-197. While non-binding, it does establish top-line spending numbers for a dozen annual appropriations bills that Congress has begun to craft.


Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, French Hill, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted in favor.


VA spending bill passed


Largely along party lines, the House approved a $76.6 billion bill to fund military construction and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2016.


Democrats opposed the bill saying it fails to adequately fund veterans’ health programs and other services, and the White House issued a veto threat. The bill provides a 5.6 percent increase to VA but it falls more than $1 billion short of Obama’s request.


Republicans argued that the 5.6 percent increase was enough to meet the needs of veterans.


"Our bill is a good bill in its current form. It targets the needs of homeless veterans, caregivers who sacrifice their time and livelihood to care for their injured service members, and those veterans waiting too long for decisions on their disability claims," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the VA.


The House voted, 255-163, to pass the bill.


Womack, Westerman, Hill and Crawford voted for it.


Marijuana amendment killed


The House narrowly rejected an amendment to the military construction bill that would have allowed VA doctors to discuss the use of medical marijuana with patients.


Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said the amendment could benefit some of the estimated 560,000 American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer from PTSD and depression by providing a less risky alternative to prescription opiates.


"Nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose, we are watching veterans have prescriptions for opiates who suffer from PTSD, for example, more than others, and their suicide rate is high," Blumenauer said. "There is real danger in not being able to provide balanced treatment."


Dent argued against the amendment. He said even if it was approved, it would not shield VA physicians from risking jail.


"DEA has advised VA that its doctors cannot issue anything that could be construed as a prescription or endorsement of medical marijuana, so the amendment won’t change the situation for veterans unless the VA physicians are willing to risk prosecution," he said.


The amendment was rejected, 210-213.


Womack, Westerman, Hill and Crawford voted against it.