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House Approves Stopgap Budget as Senate Agrees to Avert Shutdown

Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011 04:28 PM

WASHINGTON — The House approved a stopgap budget bill designed to avert a government shutdown, and the Senate’s top Democrat said his chamber will forward it to President Barack Obama within two days.

The House voted 335-91 for the plan to fund the government until March 18 while cutting $4 billion in spending. It is designed to give lawmakers time to work out a budget to finance hundreds of government programs for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Spending authority expires March 4, and the government would shut down all but essential functions without the agreement.

Democrats had sought a monthlong extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who would need support from seven Republicans to pass a bill, backed down today, saying Republicans balked at his proposed changes.

“We’ve made a number of suggestions to the speaker over the weeks,” the Nevada senator told reporters, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican. “They’ve rejected them all,” so “we’ll pass this and then we’ll look to funding the government on a long-term basis.”

Lawmakers and the Obama administration will have two weeks to work out major differences on how much to spend on hundreds of government programs until Sept. 30. House Republicans voted last month to cut $61 billion from 2011 government spending, including double-digit reductions in hundreds of programs. Democrats say those cuts would go too far and would harm the economic recovery.

All sides also must decide what to do with a number of policy items, such as a ban on funds for Obama’s healthcare overhaul and for Planned Parenthood, that House Republicans attached to their longer-term budget bill.

The measure approved today would cut spending by $4 billion, though  Republicans said the cuts were designed to be noncontroversial in a bid at compromise with Democrats.

The two-week spending measure would carve $1.3 billion by canceling unspent highway funding and cutting four Department of Education programs, a broadband program and state-election grants. The Obama administration proposed those changes in its budget request last month.

The rest of the $4 billion in savings would come by rescinding unspent money for lawmakers’ pet projects, which both parties have said they will abandon.

The plan would cut spending at the same rate as the $61 billion proposal, allowing Republicans to say they are on track to keep campaign promises to roll back non-security discretionary spending to 2008 levels.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said yesterday the focus on a small number of cuts endorsed by the administration “seems a very logical, clean, noncontroversial way to garner bipartisan support.”

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WASHINGTON The House approved a stopgap budget bill designed to avert a government shutdown, and the Senate s top Democrat said his chamber will forward it to President Barack Obama within two days.The House voted 335-91 for the plan to fund the government until March 18...
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2011-28-01
Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011 04:28 PM
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