Members Tiring of Short-Term Spending Bills

Republican Lawmakers Say It’s Time to Pass a Long-Term Measure

Posted March 15, 2011 at 6:25pm

Correction Appended

Steam is running out for short-term, stopgap spending measures.

“Everybody is going to get tired with these short-term [continuing resolutions],” Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) said Tuesday following House passage of a three-week continuing resolution that funds the government through April 8.

Likewise, freshman Rep. Allen West, who voted against Tuesday’s CR, said it was time to finish a longer-term spending plan and move away from short-term fixes.

“We cannot wait any longer,” the Florida Republican said in a floor statement. “The time has come to have this debate on federal spending and get our nation back on track by cutting spending for the long-term economic restoration of our republic.”

During a closed-door GOP Conference meeting earlier in the day, Manzullo and a handful of other Republicans told leadership that they were tiring of passing stopgap measures and warned that support for them was waning.

Leaders were sympathetic, according to Manzullo.

“I don’t think the leadership wants to see another CR like this,” he said.

The CR approved Tuesday is the second short-term measure in recent weeks, and if approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, it would avert a government shutdown come Friday, when the existing CR expires.

In Tuesday’s vote, 54 Republicans — including 20 freshmen — voted against, while 85 Democrats voted in favor. A total of 104 Democrats supported the previous CR.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle fear that Tuesday’s CR might be the last short-term measure that they can pass. 

Still, as it stands, neither side appears any closer to a deal on a long-term spending plan. Republicans and Democrats are about $50 billion apart in how much they want to cut in federal spending as part of any long-term solution. 

After Tuesday’s CR vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer urged Republicans to come to the table. Highlighting the number of Republican defections on the three-week CR, Hoyer asserted that GOP leaders, and Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) in particular, do not have control over their Conference.

“I would hope that Mr. Boehner and the majority of the Republicans would sit down with us and reach a number that is somewhere between where they think we have offered and what Mr. Boehner offered initially to the crowd that has now abandoned him,” Hoyer said. “I would hope we have a conversation very shortly … so we can get beyond this cycle of irrationally trying to fund the largest enterprise in the world on two- to three-week cycles.”

Republican leaders countered, insisting that the onus is on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to pass a long-term spending bill through his chamber so that talks can begin.

“It is very clear where the House stands, but three months into the year, the position of a majority of the Senate remains unknown. I strongly believe that Reid must offer a proposal that can gather a majority of support in the Senate,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement.

Republicans also tried to downplay the significance of Tuesday’s 54 defections.

One Republican Member said the defectors were just trying to position themselves for future negotiations. This Member also dismissed the decision of several third-party groups to score Members on the vote because it didn’t include legislative language that would defund Planned Parenthood.

“It’s easier to be a paid pundit than actually trying to govern,” the lawmaker said.

Boehner took issue with Republicans who voted no, saying he understands “some of our Members want to do more, but what is it in this bill that they disagree with?” The measure cuts an additional
$6 billion in federal spending.

Boehner also did not bow to the growing pressure from his conservative flank to publicly declare the measure as the final short-term spending legislation that he would bring up before taking up a longer-term bill.

“I want a long-term continuing resolution over as soon as possible, but I’m not going to negotiate with myself,” Boehner said.

Other Members said Tuesday’s vote was only the beginning.

“If people think this is a tough vote today, they ain’t seen nothing yet,” Rep. Dan Lungren said. “Wait until we have to talk about the budget.”

Still, the California Republican acknowledged that he is aware of third-party groups pushing for lawmakers to vote against the three-week stopgap spending measure because of the Planned Parenthood funding. Lungren, who voted in favor of Tuesday’s three-week CR, said his voting record should blunt to any criticism from outside groups.

“I’ve voted pro-life since 1979,” Lungren said.

Correction: March 15

The article misstated how many House Democrats voted for the three-week continuing resolution Tuesday.