Republican Leader Hints at More Short-Term Spending Bills

BY Quinn Bowman  March 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM EDT

Even as the Senate was preparing Tuesday to vote on two different proposals for funding the federal government until Sept. 30, the third-ranking Republican in the House said his party was prepared to pass another short-term spending measure in order to keep the government running.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that he doesn’t think a spending compromise will be reached by March 18, the day the previous spending authorization expires. McCarthy said that it was the fault of Senate Democrats for “not acting” on their own spending proposal.

“I think Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two, three, four week CR, but each time we are gonna go at it taking more bites, making sure we have cuts out there that make the economy stronger,” McCarthy said.

Just a few minutes later, his counterpart, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Republicans were creating the problem by refusing to budge off of the $61 billion in cuts approved by a mainly party-line vote in the House in February on House Resolution 1.
“As I said to (House Majority Leader) Mr. Cantor, if your position is simply 100, or 101 billion dollars and no movement, that’s not the way the legislative process works,” Hoyer said. “If that is your position, we are going to have a problem.”

Hoyer was referring to the amount of money that would be cut from President Obama’s budget proposal from last year, which was never enacted. By that metric, the Senate Democrats’ proposal would cut about $50 billion, a figure Hoyer also supports. The approximately $100 billion in cuts from the only-on-paper Obama budget is equivalent to the $61 billion cut from current spending levels already passed in the House.

By Hoyer’s math, the $51 billion in cuts is meeting the Republicans halfway at their $100 billion proposal. When compared to current spending levels, including the temporary spending measure that extended funding until March 18 and cut $4 billion from the budget, Democrats support about $10 billion in cuts while Republicans support about $61 billion.

Even as the two House leaders tried to frame the debate Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., complained that Senate Republicans were not agreeing to a vote on H.R. 1.

“We agreed to hold a vote on the Republican plan – H.R. 1 – and then vote on the Democratic plan, which makes much smarter cuts and more solid investments. Then we would return to the negotiating table and try again to find common ground,” Reid said in a statement. “That was the deal. But now Republicans are reneging on that deal. They don’t want to vote on their own bill,” Reid said.

Don Stewart, a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that there will be votes on both H.R. 1 and the Democratic alternative either Tuesday night or Wednesday.

It is possible that the Senate could vote on procedural measures related to both bills but not vote on final passage for either, if 60 senators do not agree to move toward a final vote.