Senate Passes CR to Avoid Shutdown

Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:05am

Updated: 1 p.m.

The Senate cleared the House-passed stopgap spending bill by a 91-9 vote Wednesday morning, averting a government shutdown for an additional two weeks.

The strong vote for the House package, which includes a $4 billion in spending cuts, signaled the newfound popularity of austerity after November’s elections and with the deficit projected to hit $1.5 trillion this year.

Republicans hailed the cuts as the first of many, but Democrats have warned that they do not want a series of short-term bills and have urged House Republicans to compromise on their demand for a $61 billion cut in a long-term bill.

Senate Democratic leaders said at a press conference following the vote that the CR’s passage shouldn’t be celebrated.

“I think it is an indication that there’s an abdication of responsibility,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said. “It’s going to take a super-human effort by the White House as well as Congressional leaders to achieve a new spending bill for the remainder of the year in just two weeks but we are going to roll up our sleeves and get after it. We have to.”

President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was pleased the CR passed, but he implored lawmakers to work on a longer-term, bipartisan budget deal. 

“We cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy,” Obama said. “That’s why I’m calling on Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress to begin meeting immediately with the Vice President, my Chief of Staff, and Budget Director so we can find common ground on a budget that makes sure we are living within our means.”

He said that budget “should be free of any party’s social or political agenda, and it should be reached without delay.”

After the Senate vote, GOP leaders argued that Senate Democrats need to come up with a longer-term spending plan.

Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday’s vote “gives Senate Democrats two more weeks to either consider H.R. 1 or outline their own plan for how we’ll move ahead.”

“It’s time for them to outline what they would do,” the Ohio Republican added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed, saying that after the vote, “the next question is, where are Senate Democrats going to take us?”

Boehner also dismissed complaints that the two-week CR would only temporarily put off a government shutdown. “There’s no threat of a government shutdown. … if you give Congress four weeks, Congress will take four weeks. If you give them six weeks, they’ll take six weeks. We’ve got two weeks. Let’s get the job done,” he said.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.