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House passes bill to cut $4B in spending, avert shutdown

by Candice Miller on March 2, 2011

NATHAN HURST
Detroit News Washington Bureau

http://www.detnews.com/article/20110302/POLITICS03/103020349/1022/House-passes-bill-to-cut-$4B-in-spending–avert-shutdown

Washington — An impending federal government shutdown appears to have been avoided after the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a two-week continuing resolution Tuesday, one that slices $4 billion in spending but sets up another budget battle later this month.

The bipartisan 335-91 vote came after Senate Democrats agreed to the GOP-controlled House’s plan, some of whom were pushing new legislation that would have stopped members of Congress’ paychecks in a shutdown.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said Tuesday she was co-sponsoring that bill with colleague Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in the name of fairness. The bill passed with bipartisan support late Tuesday.

“Lawmakers should be held accountable and feel the same impact as other Americans if the government is shut down,” Stabenow told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning. “I’m joining with colleagues to fix what I think is a glaring loophole.”

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, agreed, touting a House version of the same legislation he co-sponsored. In a statement, Peters echoed a feeling of bipartisan relief that a shutdown had been avoided.

“A shutdown would have real consequences for the American people,” he said.

The White House asked earlier this week for a four-week stopgap bill, but House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, moved ahead with his party’s bill after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, said the upper chamber was on board. Reid told reporters Tuesday that the continuing resolution should be to the White House by Thursday evening for President Barack Obama’s signature.

Even with the continuing resolution, Congress will be ensconced in budget fodder for at least the next two weeks as the two chambers work toward a more permanent funding plan to tide the government through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Republicans want more cuts, though it’s unclear just how far Senate Democrats will be willing to bend over the next two weeks.

If anything, the stopgap bill passed by the House on Tuesday has gotten many easier cuts out of the way, as much of the nipping and tucking represented in the legislation was based on cuts the White House had already requested in its 2012 budget, making the plan more palatable to Senate Dems.

But as Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, noted, it also lays responsibility for keeping the government operational on the Democrats.

“If the Senate and the president fail to act they will needlessly cause a shutdown of the federal government,” she said in a prepared statement.

The last government shutdown was for a record 21 days back in 1995. National Parks, Social Security offices and passport agencies were among the temporary casualties.

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