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Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said he would support, in the least, starting with a CR proposal that is set at the Ryan levels as an opening gambit in negotiations with the Senate. But, Campbell said, "I think it's more form than substance ... because we'll end up" at the debt deal levels.
Likewise, conservatives stress it remains unclear whether a full-blown war will take place but they said Members and outside activists appear to be itching for another fight over spending.
"There seems to be a desire to pick a fight over the FY2012 levels" among some of the Conference's most conservative Members, one GOP aide said.
Flake and GOP Reps. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Tom Graves (Ga.), also appropriators, are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to Boehner, Cantor and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) demanding they keep to the Ryan budget levels.
"We write to remind you that the spending cap for Fiscal Year 2012 included in the debt limit deal is a spending ceiling and not a spending floor," the trio writes.
Flake and other conservatives point out that the House has already passed several spending bills this year that use Ryan's budget as a baseline, and they argue that passing a CR at the debt deal levels would be voting for an increase in spending.
"The House simply cannot push the level of discretionary spending for the coming year upwards as its first action after the extended debt ceiling debate," they write.
"Given the current state of U.S. economy, taxpayers' continued focus on cutting deficits and reducing the national debt, and the global attention to spending issues, it would be difficult to conceive of a less opportune time to send such a clear message that Washington continues to be tone deaf when it comes to federal spending," the conservatives added.
The letter has gained the attention of influential outside activists, including the Club for Growth. In an email to lawmakers last week, the group's vice president of government affairs, Andrew Roth, warned that "The Club for Growth strongly supports the letter currently being circulated ... and we urge all members to sign it.
"Balancing the budget needs to be the goal and the debt limit deal doesn't come anywhere close to achieving that," Roth added.