House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House appear to agree on two things at least: the federal government shouldn't be shut down and funding the government via stopgap spending bills is no way to run a government.
Aside from that, they don't agree on much else. Which is why on Tuesday the House voted again to fund the government for three more weeks past Friday with a piece of legislation that would cut an additional $6 billion in spending. The vote was 271-158.
Fifty four Republicans voted no, however. They wanted bigger cuts. Only six voted against the last continuing resolution three weeks ago.
Likewise, fewer Democrats voted Tuesday for the stopgap, 85 versus 104.
That amount, added to what has been cut and signed into law already, would bring to $10 billion the amount of spending cuts, getting Republicans closer to the $61 billion in cuts contained in HR 1 which the House approved several weeks ago. The legislation failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The $6 billion in cuts includes $2.6 billion in earmarks and $1.74 billion in money that was allocated for last year's Census but not spent.
As a way to give the austerity a bipartisan flavor, some of cuts included by the House Appropriations Committee came in programs President Obama didn't request money for in his budget. Or they were proposed by Senate Democrats.
The House Appropriations Committee provided a list of the cuts in a news release last week.
Republicans and Democrats are so far apart on the larger spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, it seems unlikely that they'll be able to bridge the gaps in three weeks.
President Obama and Senate Democrats have said they will refuse to sign onto spending reductions in federal outlays they consider "investments" such as Pell Grants and Head Start.
They have also warned that reducing government spending could slow the economy down, hurting a far from robust recovery.
Republicans, on the other hand, have said that spending cuts are essential to the creation of jobs.
On Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner pointed to a report by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress' Republicans that made a case for spending cuts contributing to job growth.
It was a document that, to say the least, wasn't likely to persuade many, if any, Democrats. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
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