By JONATHAN ALLEN | 1/21/11 8:13 PM EST
A high-ranking House Republican acknowledged Friday that next week’s spending-cut vote is a message to the president, Senate Democrats and the public about where the GOP stands but not an indelible line in the sand.
“We want to have the United States House of Representatives on record, before the president delivers his State of the Union message, in support of our effort to reduce the size and scope of government. So it’s not just a press release, it’s actually a statement that the United States House of Representatives is making on this issue.” Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said in a C-SPAN “Newsmakers” interview that airs Sunday. “We’re going to end up with a negotiating process on it. There’s no dobut about that. But for us to do what we said to the American people we were going to do and that is pursue a level of spending that is pre-bailout, pre-stimulus is where we’re going to be and that is again the resolution that will pass on Tuesday. So we will have made it clear where we stand.”
In his remarks, Dreier frankly acknowledged a reality that some lawmakers have been less quick to embrace publicly: That Republicans and Democrats will each have to give some ground to keep the government operating beyond March 4, when current spending authority expires. And, he added, it’s possible Congress will have to pass stopgap legislation to prevent a shutdown before finalizing spending levels through the end of fiscal year 2011 on Sept. 30.
“We may end up in a position where we have to have more than one continuing resolution and we don’t know exactly how long that will go at this point,” he said.
But first, House Republicans will lay down their marker.
Just hours before the president arrives in the House chamber Tuesday for his annual update on the nation’s health, House leaders plan to call a vote on a nonbinding resolution reiterating Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s authority to write “a resolution reducing non-security spending to fiscal year 2008 levels or less.”
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, hasn’t released his target figure, but it is likely to represent a reduction from the president’s fiscal 2011 budget of less than $100 billion. The Associated Press has estimated that it would be an $84 billion difference. None of the cuts would come from the Pentagon or other national-security related accounts. Instead, portions of the budget devoted to health, education, transportation, agriculture and other domestic programs would be slashed.
Once the overall target cut is set, House Republicans will have to pick losers among government accounts — an exercise in austerity that is sure to run into interference from majority Democrats, and perhaps some Republicans, in the Senate. Democrats warn that the spending cuts House Republicans envision would cripple many popular federal programs.
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