House GOP Big Winner On Bill To Avert Government Shutdown

March 1, 2011

Frank James

The House's GOP leaders appear to be the big winners following passage Tuesday of legislation to temporarily fund the federal government for two weeks and cut $4 billion from current federal spending to boot.

That more than 100 Democrats joined Republicans in a whopping 335-91 vote for the stopgap spending bill was the kind of showing that would let Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) boast of a major bipartisan success and neutralize any Democratic charges of partisanship.

Republican leaders incorporated proposed spending cuts Obama had made in the two-week bill, making it easier to co-opt many of the House Democrats.

The win allowed House Republicans to stay on the offensive while forcing Senate Democrats and the White House to keep playing defense.

That would make both Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama losers to some degree. Oh, and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who voted against the two-week extension would be a loser, too, after being abandoned by so many in her Democratic caucus.

Reid has been in retreat on the spending issue. He's had to go from saying that a short-term spending bill with deep cuts was unacceptable to accepting exactly such a piece of legislation.

On Tuesday, Reid indicated the Senate would quickly take up the two-week spending bill and looked for passage before Friday when a partial shutdown could occur if additional spending isn't enacted.

Reid and President Obama had pushed for a longer extension. They didn't get it.

Having won Tuesday's battle, Speaker John Boehner made clear he would keep the pressure on Reid until the next battle, which is guaranteed to happen no later than two weeks from Friday when the new continuing resolution would expire.

From Boehner's statement:

"Today's vote by the House gives Senator Reid another two weeks to consider H.R. 1, legislation passed by the House that would fund the government through September while providing billions in spending cuts needed to help create a better environment for job creation. The House approved H.R. 1 ten days ago, but the Senate, unfortunately, has taken no action on H.R. 1 or any other legislation that would keep the government operating for the remainder of the fiscal year. Stopgap measures like the one approved in the House today are only needed because the Democrats who run Washington failed to pass a budget last year and are now failing to listen to the American people who want to keep the government running while cutting spending.

"The Washington spending binge that has left us with fewer jobs and more debt must come to an end, and the onus is on Leader Reid and Senate Democrats now to follow our lead and help make that happen. Noted economists from around the country, including Stanford economist John B. Taylor, agree that spending cuts like those in H.R. 1 will help boost our economy and create new jobs. And so I urge Senator Reid to use this additional time to bring H.R. 1 to a vote – or outline for the American people his plan for cutting spending and keeping the government running."

H.R. 1, of course, is the legislation passed by the Republican House that cuts $61 billion from current fiscal year 2011 which ends in September.

Obama and Reid have said that bill, which would make extraordinarily deep cuts in the 12 percent of the federal budget that consists of discretionary spending, is totally unacceptable. The president has threatened to veto it should it reach his desk.

Before that happens, however, there are likely to be more short-term spending bills. And House Republicans have just proved they can get closer to their goal incrementally. Four billion dollars down, $57 billion to go.

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