GOP Conservatives Balk at Stopgap Spending Bill

March 14, 2011 - 6:47 PM

Washington (AP) - Conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill began Monday to come out against a measure to keep the government running for three more weeks while the White House and Republican lawmakers seek a longer-term agreement on spending cuts.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, which makes up a sizable majority of House Republicans, said the measure should include a ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood and that Congress needs to do better than cutting spending a few billion dollars at a time.

Jordan's opposition reflects widespread unhappiness among conservatives with the must-pass legislation. The measure is needed to prevent a partial government shutdown when a stopgap funding bill expires Friday at midnight.

The House is set to vote Tuesday on a measure cutting $6 billion as the price for keeping the government open until April 8. Democrats and Republicans remain deadlocked over legislation funding day-to-day agency operations

"With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces," Jordan said in a statement.

In the Senate, a tea party favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also announced his opposition to the upcoming measure, saying that "Washington politicians of both parties (are) scrambling to put together two- and three-week plans to keep funding the government, while not fundamentally changing the behavior that has gotten us into this mess to begin with."

At issue are the daily operating budgets of dozens of federal agencies that have been kept open under a series of stopgap bills since the 2011 budget year began last October. Last month, House Republicans passed a $1.2 trillion measure that makes sweeping cuts to the domestic programs - averaging about 13 percent - that Congress funds every year.

The second- and third-ranking Republicans in the House joined the chorus of frustration Monday, warning that they won't bring many more such stopgap bills to the floor.

"This three-weeks (measure) is not something we're going to continue to always do," said GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

"How are we ever supposed to tackle the grave fiscal challenges before us like the debt ceiling, the debt and the 2012 budget when we just keep punting," said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Both Democrats and Republicans are accusing each other of not showing flexibility, and talks led by Vice President Joe Biden and including House Speaker John Boehner have not progressed very far at all. Tea party-backed Republicans are pressuring their leaders to not give ground and they're insisting that any final measure include controversial policy "riders" like a measure backed by anti-abortion lawmakers to block Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal money.

Such an outcome appears unacceptable to the White House and Senate Democrats, who unanimously opposed the House spending measure in a vote last week.

"In order to avert a shutdown, Speaker Boehner should consider leaving the tea party behind," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.