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CR Votes Could Clear Way for Bipartisan Deal

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Majority Whip Dick Durbin said today’s Senate votes will show that the House continuing resolution cutting $61 billion in spending cannot pass.

In the weeks since becoming Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tried to educate his Members about the complexities of the legislative process. Along those lines, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) have made it a practice of explaining the ins and outs of the budget process, federal spending and the debt ceiling, and soliciting feedback from freshmen.

Republican leaders tried to use last month’s debate on the long-term continuing resolution to demonstrate to their freshmen that sometimes their ideas wouldn’t have enough support to pass. The CR was brought up under an open process under which hundreds of amendments were considered.

Aides said leaders hope the CR debate and efforts to educate Members about the process have helped lay the groundwork for a long-term budget compromise. But more work needs to be done. House Appropriations Committee Republicans have already begun to discuss bringing up a second, short-term CR to keep the government funded until a final, broader agreement can be worked out. The House and Senate passed — and Obama signed — a short-term CR last week to keep the government funded until March 18 as Members try to reach a deal on a longer-term plan.

It is still unclear how long that CR would last and the level of additional spending cuts it would contain. The first short-term CR contained $4 billion in spending reductions.

One veteran Republican aide argued the Conference has put itself in a tough spot since it vowed to cut $100 billion in spending this year. 

“Cutting anything at all in this CR is a victory, [but] we’ve messaged ourselves into a box,” the aide said.

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