WASHINGTON — A pair of conservative Republicans declared their opposition to the latest short-term budget bill Monday, increasing the uncertainty about Congress' ability to maintain support for stopgap measures to avoid a government shutdown.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising star in the 2010 GOP class, said he will oppose the latest legislation and any further short-term measures because he believes it is irresponsible to keep the government running in two- to three-week stints. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of a conservative caucus with more than 170 Republicans, called for "swift action" in approving deeper spending cuts than those in the current proposal.
The bill, which the House is slated to take up today, includes $6 billion in cuts for the remainder of 2011 and would keep most agencies open at last year's levels until April 8. It would be the sixth such stopgap measure since the fiscal year began Oct. 1. If passed, the bill would bring to $10 billion the total spending reductions approved this month.
House Republicans are pushing a budget plan that would slash $61 billion from agency spending, a figure Democrats oppose. The stopgap bills are a result of the deadlock.
House GOP aides privately expressed optimism that the interim bill will pass and that the Senate will approve it later this week. But the opposition from Rubio and Jordan showed that opposition is growing. Both supported the last two-week measure, which is keeping the government open until Friday.
Lawmakers signaled that each side will quickly lose support for keeping the government funded through piecemeal steps.
"This will be an interesting challenge as we go forward. I think it will pass, and it will get us an additional three weeks," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But then, he said, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and President Barack Obama "are going to have to re-engage and try to get an ultimate solution for this year's spending."