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'Reality' Sets in for House GOP on CR

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. James Lankford said Congress could draw out the debate on a continuing resolution or pass it and let the November elections decide the next step forward.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), who has voted against CRs in the past, said the temporary measure is attractive to him this go-round because it would remove spending decisions from lame-duck Members.

"If we can have a flat-line, year-to-year - and we're still looking at the numbers to see if it does that - we're comfortable with saying, 'Gosh, get it out of the lame-duck Congress' hands,'" the freshman lawmaker said. "I'm just fearful after an election, folks who retired or got beat come up here and get to make very critical decisions."

Conservatives are wary of what might happen in a lame-duck period beyond just the basic government spending.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who was critical in getting tea party Members in line for this bill, told reporters Tuesday that if Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November, he will do everything he can to ensure that lawmakers do not approve anything of any budgetary consequence before the new Congress, which would be then guided by a Republican president. He demonstrated resignation over how he might try to rally conservatives if President Barack Obama wins re-election, noting that he'd be unhappy with whatever Congress would come up with before or after Obama is sworn in again.

How Senate Republicans set the tone for their House counterparts could prove formative.

For example, Rep. Tim Scott said his likely support of the CR was simply a pragmatic decision: This is what can get through the Senate, and so he is following their lead, he said.

"There's no doubt that my conservative friends in the Senate have taken a position that simply says a clean [$1.047 trillion] number is digestible. So for us to not take that position seriously would be for us to not recognize the reality of Washington today," the South Carolina freshman said.

The House is expected to vote on the CR on Thursday, and the Senate would take it up soon after. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated they do not expect to take up amendments to a clean, House-approved measure.

House Democrats are largely expected to back the CR, giving Republicans enough wiggle room to send the bill to the Senate without the full support of the GOP Conference.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), for one, said he is still leaning against it for a simple reason: "It goes beyond the budget that I said I would support."

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