Speaker John Boehner is under increasing pressure from his right flank to hold firm on a $61 billion spending cut in any final, long-term spending deal with Democrats.
House conservatives are becoming increasingly bullish about how much federal spending could be cut in a final, long-term continuing resolution, creating additional pressure for GOP leaders trying to reach a deal with Democrats.
More than a dozen Republican Members this week reiterated their support for the six-month House bill that cuts $61 billion in federal spending. And they said they may not back a compromise with Senate Democrats and the White House that calls for smaller reductions. If too many Republicans dig in, and no deal is reached, the government would shut down April 9.
“Sixty-one billion is a compromise,” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said Wednesday. “I’m not going to go below that. The American people are depending on us cutting the size and scope of the federal government.”
The conservatives’ position is keeping the heat on GOP leaders who are hoping to negotiate a budget compromise before April 8 when the current CR expires. Broun was among the 129 members of the Republican Study Committee who agreed to back that last CR.
Congressional negotiators appear to be moving closer to a deal, but neither side has claimed victory. Senate Democrats and the White House said this week that the two sides are about $6 billion apart; House Republican leaders have largely stayed mum.
On Wednesday, 39 freshmen delivered a letter to Reid calling on the Senate to pass a long-term CR and come to the negotiating table. At the same time, GOP leaders vowed to take up a measure this week that would make the $61 billion spending-cut measure the default plan if the Senate fails to act by April 6. That bill is symbolic at best because the Senate would not pass it, nor would President Barack Obama sign it.
“We passed a CR that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year, so the Senate’s got to do it,” Rep. John Shimkus said.
“They haven’t done it yet. The Senate, they’ve got to put up or shut up,” the Illinois Republican said.
The heat isn’t just on Senate Democrats, however.
GOP leaders are feeling pressure to stand firm on the final number from their rank and file and the outside. A rally by the conservative Tea Party Patriots will be held at the Capitol today.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) predicted Republicans would “stick pretty strong” to forcing $61 billion in cuts, while Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) said, “H.R. 1 is definitely our bill and certainly what we want to see accomplished.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.