House approves stopgap spending bill

WASHINGTON — The House approved a resolution Tuesday that would keep the government running through early April, even as dozens of Republicans signaled that they would no longer support short-term budget fixes.

On a 271-158 vote, the House approved a stopgap bill that would cut $6 billion from federal programs and keep the government open through April 8. Senate leaders in both parties have said they will pass the bill before Friday, when the measure that is currently funding the government expires.

The new temporary measure would be the sixth since the fiscal year began Oct. 1 and the second this month. It may also be the last, given the fraying support for short-term fixes among House Republicans, as well as from President Barack Obama.

The 271 "aye" votes were 64 fewer than for the previous stopgap bill, confirming that support for quick fixes is plummeting and that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Obama have a three-week window to avoid a government shutdown.

"It's very difficult to do more short-term" funding resolutions, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said after the vote. "Who doesn't know that?"

Fifty-four Republicans opposed Tuesday's measure.

Boehner and Reid, however, remain far apart in their negotiations. House Republicans are standing by their proposal to slash $61 billion from this year's budget and are demanding that Reid allow a full Senate debate to determine how deep the spending cuts would go in that chamber.

Reid has dismissed the Boehner bill as reckless and Tuesday reiterated his assertion that the speaker is being forced by tea party-backed lawmakers into a showdown that could lead to a shutdown.

"We're not going to take an ax to this budget," Reid told reporters. "We're going to work it as smoothly as we can and work to cut spending, but do it in a way that's meaningful to the American people."

Obama has remained largely detached from the negotiations, relying on aides and, once, Vice President Joe Biden to try to nudge the talks along.

Complicating the effort to resolve this year's budget are two forthcoming events: the unveiling of the House Republican budget proposal for next year, with its politically perilous recommendations for entitlement reform; and the need for Congress to approve an increase in the federal debt limit.

>>How they voted

The House passed the cut in spending on a 271-158 vote.

Gus Bilirakis,

R-Palm Harbor
Yes
Richard Nugent,

R-Spring Hill

Yes
Dennis Ross,

R-Lakeland

No
C.W. Bill Young,

R-Indian Shores

Yes
Vern Buchanan,

R-Sarasota

Yes
Kathy Castor,

D-Tampa

Yes

House approves stopgap spending bill 03/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:07am]

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