Rhetoric Heats Up Over FY2011 Spending

Rhetoric Heats Up Over FY2011 Spending

Democrats today turned up the heat on House Republicans over the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, FY2011. President Obama threatened to veto the House version of the CR, H.R. 1, and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), made clear that the bill in its current form is unacceptable.

The House began debate today on the version of H.R. 1 recommended last Friday by the House Appropriations Committee. It would cut $100 billion in federal spending for the remaining months of FY2011, which ends on September 30. Although both Republicans and Democrats have publicly stated that they do not want the governnent to shut down at midnight March 4 when the current CR expires, the chasm between the two sides seems to grow wider every day. The House Republican leadership promised an “open rule” to debate H.R. 1, and hundreds of amendments are expected, many demanding even deeper cuts.

Senator Inouye complained that the House bill is using a meat axe to cut programs with no consideration of their merit. In a press release, he said “…many of the reductions … were made not because programs were ineffective or wasteful, but out of desire to meet an arbitrary dollar figure cited during a political campaign. Many of the recommendations … resulted in a ‘meat cleaver’ approach to budget cuts, when we should be using a scalpel — responsibly identifying specific programs that are wasteful or unneeded.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) saying that it “strongly opposes” the bill and that “If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the President will veto the bill.”

The House expects to pass the bill this week. Both the House and Senate are in recess next week. That leaves only the week of February 28 for a resolution to be reached. Talk continues to grow that there will be another short-term CR to give both sides more time to find a compromise, as challenging as that will be.

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