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House Republican leaders may have to make an unexpected course correction on the continuing resolution to head off defections from unhappy moderates.
The discontent surfaced Tuesday as the House began debate on the stopgap spending measure, which is being considered under an open process that could result in hundreds of amendments. Moderates have stopped short of threatening to vote no on final passage but are complaining that leaders have been too arbitrary about the spending cuts contained in the CR.
Republican leaders already gave in to pressure on the measure from conservatives, who were demanding that an additional $26 billion in cuts be included. The spending measure, which keeps the government funded through Sept. 30, now contains $100 billion in cuts from President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request. The current CR expires March 4.
Now, however, Republican leaders are discovering that by putting out one fire, they may have ignited another — emboldening moderates who want their own changes to the stopgap spending bill.
Rep. Steven LaTourette is leading the charge of some members of the moderate Tuesday Group who want to make sure the CR does not pick “winners and losers.”
“The amendment looks for across-the-board reduction in all accounts to achieve the $100 billion in savings, but it treats everybody sort of the same,” LaTourette said. “This is just funding things for the next several months so we can clean up the mess that Democrats left for us and then begin the regular appropriations process for fiscal year 2012.”
The Ohio Republican, an ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), was still working Tuesday afternoon on the specifics of the amendment to ensure that it would be ruled in order.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, co-chairwoman of the Tuesday Group, would not commit to supporting LaTourette’s amendment, but the Missouri Republican said she expects it would get a lot of support. Emerson said she is in a tough spot because she also serves on the Appropriations Committee, which crafted the original CR language.
“I’m not, not supportive of it, but as I said, I’m in an awkward position right now,” she said. “I mean, hopefully, I think it would get a fair amount of support.”
Even Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said he would back LaTourette’s amendment to avoid deeper cuts to programs such as low-income heating assistance.
“It’s a pretty thoughtful amendment, and the bottom line is what I’m concerned about so I’m going vote for it,” the Michigan Republican said.
Rep. Walter Jones Jr., who regularly bucks the GOP, also said he would be open to supporting the LaTourette amendment.