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Leaders Hope to Avoid Spending Fight

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (left) and Rep. Tim Scott conduct a pen-and-pad briefing Monday in the Capitol on President Barack Obama’s proposed jobs bill and other issues.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday appealed to his Conference to move beyond the party’s budget battles with Democrats when it comes to an upcoming short-term spending bill.

The Virginia Republican said that while he and other Republicans will continue to seek cuts to the federal budget, they will stick to the debt deal with the White House that sets spending at a higher level than the GOP’s House-passed budget.

“I am supportive of a [continuing resolution] being written at that level,” Cantor said Monday.

Under the deal, enacted in August, discretionary spending was set at $1.043 trillion for the next fiscal year. But the budget resolution passed by the House in April — which sets discretionary spending at $1.019 trillion — is still operative, and House GOP leaders must have Members vote to put the new, higher spending level in place.

The reason for agreeing to a spending level higher than that proposed in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) plan is simple, Cantor said.

“The risk of bringing about brinkmanship or another shutdown [fight] would not be helpful,” he said, insisting that Republicans by and large support addressing the CR in a manner “without there having to be another potential for shutdown and [instead] maintain our focus” on jobs.

Cantor’s recommitment to the debt deal comes as a small but vocal group of conservatives in the House has begun a push to resume the bitter war with President Barack Obama and Democrats over the size of the federal budget.

These conservatives insist that the debt deal levels should be seen only as a ceiling for spending in the CR and have urged leadership to stick to Ryan’s levels.

But spending fights have consumed the House for the past eight months, and leaders — as well as most of the rank and file — are eager to move on.

At this point, it does not appear that conservative opposition to a CR set at the debt deal’s levels will threaten the legislation. While hardliners will likely vote against it, leadership has not been able to count on their support for the debt deal or other measures this year. Additionally, leadership aides said even some Members who voted against the debt deal have indicated they do not want another spending fight right now.

Republicans are expected to introduce a continuing resolution late this week or early next week to fund the government through November.

Cantor’s message was briefly thrown into turmoil by a report in Politico that Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) was pursuing his own plan that would include spending cuts below the August deal.

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