GOP spending bill passes in landslide as 100 Dems defect

The House on Tuesday approved a two-week spending resolution by a 335-91 vote, as more than 100 Democrats joined all but six Republicans to support a measure aimed at averting a government shutdown this week.

More Democrats voted for the measure, which would reduce spending by $4 billion over the next two weeks, than against it, despite criticism of the GOP proposal ahead of the vote by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Democratic leader and former Speaker. 

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Democratic leadership was divided. Pelosi voted no, but House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted for it. Democratic leaders urged their members to vote against the rule for the bill, but did not urge their members to vote against the spending measure itself. 

The six Republicans voting against the bill were Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Walter Jones (N.C), Steve King (Iowa), and Ron Paul (Texas). 

The bill is expected to be considered Wednesday in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said Democrats will pass it, albeit reluctantly. The measure funds the federal government through March 18.

The successful House vote on H.J.Res. 44 came after a debate in which both parties mostly talked past each other. Republicans claimed a short-term extension was needed in large part because Democrats failed to pass a budget late last year.

Republicans also said a two-week extension would give the Senate more time to consider a full-fiscal year spending bill, H.R. 1, that would cut $61 billion from current funding levels.

Democrats focused almost all of their attention on that measure, passed by the House last month, which they think cuts too deeply. Several stressed economic estimates that the bill would lead to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, and said it had no chance of moving ahead in the Senate or the White House.

"H.R. 1 is clearly not acceptable to the other body, nor would it be acceptable to the president, whose signature is necessary before any funding bill can become law," said House Budget Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.). "What the president has already proposed for the coming year, a budget freeze at last year's level, remains in my judgment the most effective way to reduce the deficit and to support recovery in major sectors of our economy."

The two parties found some agreement on the need for Congress to avoid a cycle of passing short-term extensions — which Reid called a "terrible way to govern." Hoyer implored both parties to finish work on the full 2011 measure as soon as possible.

Dicks added that recent comments from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in which he said Republicans might make Democrats swallow budget cuts "one slice at a time," are worrying.

"We were concerned by his statement that seemed to indicate a plan for a piecemeal approach to future spending cuts," Dicks said.

Dicks was joined by Republicans who likewise said the next step should be a complete budget for the rest of the year, not temporary extensions. But Republicans repeated that the short-term continuing resolution was needed because the Senate failed to consider H.R. 1 at all, and called on the Senate to begin its work on a budget.

"This two-week continuing resolution, with its $4 billion in savings, is acceptable as a temporary stopgap," said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). "But after agreeing to this short-term measure, the Senate must buckle down and get to work on passing the full-year continuing resolution the House sent them two weeks ago."

"I'll support his measure, but I have been pushed for my limit," added Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.). "It's time for the Senate to get to work."

King said he voted against the bill because it allowed funding for Planned Parenthood and President Obama's healthcare reform; he would have offered an amendment to attach these defunding provisions, he said, but was thwarted by the rule for the bill.

King said he's worried now that GOP leaders will have to work to get the defunding provisions back into a final deal and is trying to find out leadership's plan to "inject" healthcare back into the debate. If he doesn't succeed, King will look to tie defunding "ObamaCare" to the vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

Erik Wasson contributed to this article.

This post was updated at 5:02 p.m.