House GOP, Dems point fingers ahead of funding-bill vote

House Republicans and Democrats started Thursday morning's debate on a one-week continuing resolution by blaming each other for the budget impasse.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) started debate on the rule for H.R. 1363 by saying there has been a "stunning lack of leadership" from the White House and Senate Democrats. She said they need to accept steeper budget cuts, as the federal budget is on an unsustainable path.

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"The time has now come for the hapless liberal Democrats elites in the Senate and the White House to make a decision," she said. "It's time to decide between acting responsibly, abandoning favorite political alliances, and continuing their failed big-government policies as a solution to all earthly problems."

Foxx noted that the one-week spending bill funds U.S. military spending for the rest of FY 2011, and said Democrats have shown a "willful disregard" for U.S. troops overseas.

Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) countered that Democrats have come "more than halfway" to meeting GOP spending-cut demands. He said the fight is less about the spending-cut figure and more about how to reach it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday the numbers "are basically there."

"So in other words, this is no longer about numbers," McGovern said. "They have all these riders on these bills. Riders that deal with abortion, National Public Radio, riders that undercut EPA's ability to be able to ensure there is safe drinking water and clean air."

McGovern contended, as many Democrats have, that the real hold-up in the budget talks is a split within the Republican party.

"This impasse is not because of disputes between Democrats and Republicans," he said. "It's because of an interparty feud between sensible, pragmatic Republican legislators, and angry, take-no-prisoner Republican activists."

The House convened at 10 a.m. to start debate on the rule for the one-week spending bill, which would cut $12 billion in the week ending April 15. The House is expected to approve the bill Thursday, barring some surprise announcement that a broader spending agreement has been reached.

President Obama and congressional leaders are expected to meet again early Thursday afternoon at the White House to continue work on an agreement.

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