House Moves Up Vote on Spending Bill as Snowstorm Bears Down on DC

BY Terence Burlij and Christina Bellantoni  March 6, 2013 at 8:58 AM EDT

Speaker of the House John BoehnerHouse Speaker John Boehner answers reporters’ questions after the weekly House Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol Tuesday. With the budget sequester now in effect, Boehner and his party in the House are now focused on fighting against new taxes and rolling back the federal budget. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Morning Line

“Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote.

House Republicans will heed that 202-year-old bit of advice from the founding father and hold a vote Wednesday afternoon on their stopgap measure to keep the federal government funded past March 27. The legislation, which seeks to remove the prospect of a potentially calamitous government shutdown, locks in post-sequester spending levels, but includes protections for defense and veterans programs.

GOP leaders originally scheduled the vote for Thursday, but moved it up a day over concerns about the snowstorm that was expected to hit the Washington area on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner expressed confidence Tuesday that the bill would pass.

“Spending is the problem here in Washington, and our goal is to cut spending — not to shut the government down,” Boehner told reporters. “The president agreed last week that that should be our goal and I’m hopeful that this continuing resolution will find easy passage both in the House and the Senate.”

House Democratic leaders signaled Tuesday that they would not launch a full-scale effort against the measure. “We’re not whipping at this point in time,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters. “We don’t want to shut down the government.”

The Obama administration, meanwhile, issued a statement that said it was “deeply concerned” about the impact of the GOP legislation, which funds the government for just six months, but did not threaten a presidential veto. It cited concerns about effects to consumer protections and health care services.

“The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to refine the legislation to address these concerns,” the statement said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said his chamber would attempt to move it’s own plan to fund the government next week. Reid added that he was “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a compromise in the coming weeks, but indicated Democrats would want to have a say in the composition of the continuing resolution, or CR. “I’m anxious to see what the House is going to pass with the CR. We have a pretty good idea now, but we’ll wait and see what the final product is,” Reid said.

“We believe, that this being a bicameral legislature, that we also have a right to have some appropriation bills and that we also have the right to have some anomalies. That’s what we’re going to be focusing on,” Reid added.

Which means, as is the case with most battles on Capitol Hill, the devil is in the details. With the consequences of failing to reach an agreement on funding the government far more immediate and wide-ranging than with the sequester, there will be added pressure on lawmakers to figure out a way to meet their next deadline.

On PBS NewsHour Tuesday, Ray Suarez talked Todd Zwillich of PRI’s “The Takeaway” about the continuing resolution and what’s next in the process.

Zwillich said he’s watching to see how many in the GOP’s rank-and-file join their leader to vote for this plan, or if it’s another measure that passes without a majority of the majority’s support: “There likely won’t be a majority of Republicans to prevent a government shutdown. John Boehner will have to rely on Nancy Pelosi to provide the votes.” (Roll Call reports Wednesday that Boehner privately told his caucus he won’t let this trend keep up. “[It's] not a practice that I would expect to continue long term,” the speaker told reporters after meeting with members.)

Watch the segment here or below:

A CONSERVATIVE’S VISION

Judy Woodruff interviewed Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli about his book, “The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty.” The gubernatorial candidate outlined his philosophy for governing, including why he thinks the founding fathers got some things wrong. They discussed health care reform and his take on global warming.

On politics, Cuccinelli said he is in the “mainstream.”

Asked about Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s possible entry into the race as an “independent Republican,” Cucinelli closed on a note of compromise. “We have a lot to appeal to everyone with, and I have not met a human being yet that I don’t agree with on some things,” he said.

Watch the conversation here or below:

And watch the online portion of the conversation here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • The Washington Post examines the politics behind Jeb Bush’s immigration backtrack and also found that Republican senators pushing for a comprehensive bill with a pathway to citizenship say they are not deterred.
  • The Hill looks at a new pro-immigration reform super PAC that could target opponents of a comprehensive plan.
  • A new ABC/Washington Post poll finds strong overall public support for the budgetary cuts of the kind delivered by Friday’s sequester, but strong opposition, by nearly the same 2-1 margin, to the 8 percent across-the-board reduction in military spending.
  • John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA cleared the Senate Intelligence Committee by a 12-3 vote Tuesday. The full Senate will hold a vote likely on Thursday.
  • Sounds like Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is re-thinking proposing changes to the Medicare eligibility age.
  • White House tours are the latest victims of the sequester.
  • Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., praised Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez upon his death Tuesday.
  • Disgraced ex-Rep. Bob Ney goes after Boehner in a new book, The Hill reports.
  • After the fizzling of the story about Sen. Bob Menendez and prostitutes, The Washington Post profiles the Daily Caller’s “put-up-your-dukes attitude” that made it a “rising star among the new Washington media, particularly the conservative kind.”
  • Politico’s Dylan Byers tracks the complicated ins and outs of the story.
  • Add Donald Trump to the list of CPAC speakers. But Gov. Bob McDonnell, D-Va., joins New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among the GOP elected officials not getting an invite to this year’s gathering.
  • The Democratic National Committee tweaks House Republicans on the sequester.
  • Ahead of South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson’s expected retirement announcement later this month, Republicans are pouncing on the possibility that his son, Attorney General Brendan Johnson, will jump in the race, throwing charges of nepotism. Democrats, however, aren’t yet sure Johnson’s lack of a voting record makes him the stronger candidate over former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who faces her own charges of nepotism.
  • The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer bites into the lunchroom that is Capitol Hill, writing of an encounter with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Dirksen cafeteria’s international station, “but a reporter who runs into him is not fooled into thinking that he will be inclined to make small talk; he will almost certainly regard her as a raccoon he just discovered in the attic, and glance around for someone to dispose of her.”
  • PolitiFact checks Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ comments during the Voting Rights Act arguments that compared Mississippi and Massachusetts voter turnout.
  • What could be better than following They Might Be Giants’ John Linnell around on an eating tour of New York?
  • Going to South by Southwest? Check out all the cool things PBS is doing at the annual interactive festival in Austin. And don’t miss Christina’s Monday panel about partisan media.
  • Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA runs down stats on Social Security beneficiaries.

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Katelyn Polantz and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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