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Pelosi Prepares Stopgap Bill to Avoid Shutdown

House Democratic leaders are introducing a stopgap spending measure to avoid a government shutdown if a longer-term bill is not completed by the March 4 deadline, they said late Friday.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the legislation in a statement, arguing that a stopgap measure is a necessary hedge, given the pace of the work on a continuing resolution that would finish out fiscal 2011.

The stopgap measure, which will be introduced by Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Assistant Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Appropriations ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), would maintain current spending levels through March 31.

However, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he would not move a stopgap measure at current funding levels if the House and Senate can’t come to a spending agreement before March 4, when the continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires.

“This bill would continue the freeze in government spending contained in the current CR,” Pelosi said in the statement. “In order to give Congress time to finish the legislation and avoid the calamitous effect of a government shutdown on the American people, I am hopeful Republican leaders will agree to a short term extension of the freeze as we work to pass a bill the President can sign into law for the remainder of 2011.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the proposal.

“While Republicans in the House of Representatives are making a genuine effort to cut spending and debt, Democrats continue to line up behind the President’s timid proposal for locking in the massive spending levels that Americans rejected just three months ago,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement.

“In other words, Democrat leaders in Congress intend to join the President in resigning themselves to a future of higher unemployment and spiraling debt,” he added.

A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called the plan "simply unserious."

"While House Republicans are cutting government spending so businesses can grow and create jobs, Rep. Pelosi is pushing more-of-the-same spending that drove our country to the brink of a debt crisis," the spokesperson said.

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