Funding for Israel is one of the few exemptions; it remains at $3 billion a year.

If the committee cannot reach an agreement – or if Congress rejects its recommendations – it will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts of at least $1.2 trillion.

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Nervousness persists over whether major entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – which respectively cover medical assistance for the elderly and poor – will be on the chopping block.

They are mostly spared for now and, according to the agreement, will be spared again, paradoxically, if the committee defaults on its mission and fails to reach an agreement. The programs could face cuts, however, should the committee recommend them.

(JTA)

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