"Our Children and Grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent" JFK

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House of Representatives Kick the Budget Can for Another 3 weeks

The New York Times
By Carl Hulse
March 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives gave grudging approval on Tuesday to finance the federal government for three more weeks. Dozens of Republicans broke with their leadership to oppose the stopgap legislation.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for the bill passed on Tuesday, which would cut $6 billion in spending while keeping the government operating through April 8, to be the last temporary budget expedient. They said it was time for Congress and the White House to reach agreement on federal spending that would cover the remainder of the fiscal year, through Sept. 30.

“Let’s pass this, move ahead and get this thing done,” said Representative Ander Crenshaw, Republican of Florida.

The House Republican leadership supported the short-term bill because it would allow some time for additional budget talks with Democrats. But more than 50 rank-and-file conservatives opposed it because it did not cut spending more deeply, and some of them said they were ready to force a showdown and that Democrats were stalling.

“It is time to pick a fight,” said Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana.

The final vote on the bill was 271 to 158, with 186 Republicans and 85 Democrats supporting the budget extension while 54 Republicans and 104 Democrats were opposed.

The number of Republican defections suggests that the House leadership may have difficulty selling to its rank and file any final budget compromise that falls very far short of the $61 billion in cuts already approved by the House (but not the Senate), and that fails to incorporate policy restrictions on abortion, the new health care law and environmental rules that many House Republicans favor.

The number of Republican defections....
"But I came from a large family and
mopped floors..."

Republican supporters of the stopgap bill asked their colleagues to approve the measure to forestall a shutdown of the federal government while talks continue with Senate Democrats and President Obama on a spending plan. They noted that the measure cuts $6 billion in current spending. The previous two-week stopgap bill cut spending by about $4 billion.

“We will have cut over $10 billion in the span of two weeks,” said Representative Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said.

Senate leaders predicted that the Senate would approve the latest stopgap measure later this week, despite mounting conservative resistance in that chamber as well.

The measure passed by the House on Tuesday would eliminate a variety of grant programs that the Obama administration had already proposed ending. It would also eliminate $17 million in spending on the International Fund for Ireland, $750,000 for a defunct commission on Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial, and other items. It would reclaim $2.6 billion that had been set aside for local projects around the country that will no longer be financed because of new rules in Congress banning “earmarks.”

Republicans and Democrats lamented the situation that Congress finds itself in, financing the entire federal government almost from week to week.

“The fact of the matter is, this is a lousy way to run a railroad,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

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