GOP rift forms as House passes stopgap spending bill. What happens next?
Republican freshmen revolt, saying the three-week spending bill cuts too little – $6 billion – from the 2011 budget. House Democrats who backed the measure say the GOP rift gives them an edge.
In a dramatic House vote, 54 Republicans broke ranks with their own leadership Tuesday to oppose a three-week stopgap measure to keep government funded beyond March 18, when the current continuing resolution expires.Skip to next paragraph
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The spending bill, which passed 271 to 178, cuts $6 billion from fiscal year 2010 spending levels. It now heads to the Senate, where the Democratic majority leader promises action this week.
The rift in Republican ranks caps a week of high frustration in which neither the Senate nor the White House brought a plan to the table that makes a dent in a projected $1.65 trillion deficit for the 2011 fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. Conservatives, including many in the 87-member GOP freshman class, say the time for a showdown with Democrats – and with their own leadership – over the need for significant budget cuts is now.
Bowing to conservative pressure, especially from the GOP freshmen, House Republicans in February passed a spending bill to fund government through the end of FY 2011 that cut $62 billion from 2010 spending levels. In response, last week, the Senate took back-to-back votes on the House bill and an alternative proposed by the Senate Appropriations panel that cut only $6 billion, mainly comprising programs that were already slated to be scrapped by President Obama. Both measures failed, forcing House Republicans to scramble for another short-term fix.
The latest House continuing resolution cuts or eliminates 25 programs, many already identified for elimination by the White House in its budget for FY 2012. In addition to $3.5 billion in program cuts, the House plan also zeros out $2.6 billion for member projects or earmarks. It cuts in three weeks what Senate Democrats proposed cutting over six months. The current two-week continuing resolution cut $4 billion from 2010 levels.