House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner (middle), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (left) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, plan to introduce a short-term spending bill with enough cuts to appease conservatives.
Updated: 6:45 p.m.
House Republicans will introduce a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown while making reductions to the federal budget by week’s end, GOP leadership aides said Wednesday.
The goal, aides said, was to craft a bill that makes enough cuts to appease conservatives but cherry-picks reductions that Democrats and Republicans already support to make it palatable to the minority and the White House. That, Republicans hope, will put enough pressure on Senate Democratic moderates that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be forced to accept the bill.
The reductions will be “things [Democrats] identified they’re willing to cut,” a GOP leadership aide said.
The continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires March 4, and the House passed another one early Saturday that would last until Sept. 30, when fiscal 2011 ends. Because it is unlikely that the House-passed bill will be finalized before March 4, a stopgap spending bill would be necessary to avoid a government shutdown.
Jon Summers, a spokesman for Reid, came out strongly Wednesday against the House GOP’s stopgap, and he called on Republicans to negotiate.
“The Republicans’ so-called compromise is nothing more than the same extreme package the House already handed the Senate, just with a different bow,” Summers said in a statement. “This isn’t a compromise, it’s a hardening of their original position. This bill would simply be a two-week version of the reckless measure the House passed last weekend. It would impose the same spending levels in the short term as their initial proposal does in the long term, and it isn’t going to fool anyone. Both proposals are non-starters in the Senate.”
Although House Appropriations Committee members held initial discussions on the need for a short-term continuing resolution, staff were still in the early stages of writing the bill Wednesday, and the details were unclear. However, aides said that the length of the CR would likely be tied to the cuts and that the deeper the reductions the longer the bill would last.
Reid has demanded that the short-term bill extend spending at current levels, which Democrats have insisted would represent a significant cut below President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request.
Republicans have rejected that proposal out of hand, insisting that any CR must include reductions below existing funding levels.
One House GOP aide said the position of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reid "that they will force a government shutdown rather than cut one penny in spending is indefensible — and it will be very hard for them to oppose a reasonable short-term funding measure that will cut spending."