By Russell Berman - 01/25/11 03:50 PM EST
The House will hold an early vote in mid-February on a bill to fund the government, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday, as Republican leaders look to get a head start on cutting federal spending.
The government is now operating under a stopgap measure that expires March 4, but Cantor said the House would vote the week of Feb. 14 on a new funding bill, known as a continuing resolution.
The vote will allow Republican leaders to move ahead on their efforts to reduce spending for the current fiscal year, before the full budget process begins in earnest. The majority leader has said the continuing resolution is one of “three bites at the apple” Republicans will have to demand spending cuts. The other two are a vote to lift the debt ceiling and next year’s budget.
On a more practical level, the early vote will provide more time for what is expected to a contentious battle with the Senate, where Democratic leaders are sure to resist the level of spending reductions the House GOP will demand. Lawmakers typically wait until the last minute to act on stopgap funding measures.
Republican leaders also pledged an open amendment process for the funding bill, which will allow conservatives to push for even deeper cuts and for liberals to register their opposition more forcefully.
“The Speaker has continued to say we’re going to have an open process in this House, and the House will work its will,” Cantor said. “Our intention is to allow every member on both sides of the political aisle to come forward and offer his or her prescriptions for how we cut spending and reduce the size of government.”
Cantor’s announcement comes as the GOP looks to put its own marker on spending ahead of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.