By Molly K. Hooper - 03/08/11 04:07 PM EST
House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says Republicans are preparing to move a second short-term funding measure to avert a potential government shutdown.
McCarthy told reporters Tuesday morning the Senate does not have enough time before the current stopgap funding measure expires March 18 to fully negotiate a long-term bill to fund government operations through September.
“Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two-, three- or four-week CR, but each time, we’re going to go at it taking more bites, making sure we have cuts out there that will make the economy stronger,” McCarthy said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
He said Republicans would be able to find additional cuts to move through the House.
McCarthy blamed Democrats for stalling negotiations on a long-term CR. Senate Democratic leaders have said that the House-passed version, cutting a total of $61 billion in spending, is a non-starter.
“Because of their lack of action and because the vice president starting negotiations and then leaving the country, what do we want to do, have a shutdown, are we going to wait until he comes back,” McCarthy asked.
President Obama tapped Vice President Biden as the White House point-man in negotiations with House Republicans. But Biden left for a week-long trip to eastern Europe and Russia on Monday.
An apparent agreement to hold test votes in the Senate on the competing plans fell apart Tuesday, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accusing Republican leaders Tuesday of backing out.
Reid said GOP leaders agreed last week to hold up-or-down votes on the House-passed plan and a Democratic alternative. But Republicans withheld consent needed to schedule votes.
Now "Republicans are reneging on that deal," he said. "They don’t want to vote on their own bill.”
In the breakfast meeting, McCarthy accused Democrats of playing politics with a potential government shutdown that could occur if Democrats refuse to negotiate beyond their initial offer to cut little more than $10.5 billion in spending this year — the $4 billion already agreed to and another $6.5 billion.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) effectively put his foot down to moving past that $10 billion offer, setting up a greater chance of a shutdown. The last major shutdown occurred in 1995 and 1996, under a GOP dominated House and Senate, when President Clinton was in office.
But McCarthy cautioned that unlike 1995, the U.S. is fighting wars on two fronts, the dollar isn’t as strong as it was in the mid-90’s, and that the Middle East wasn’t in as much turmoil as is brewing in the region.
“I really watch the Democrats try to replay 1995, probably more so the administration than anybody else. Remember this isn’t 1995. This is not a place to play politics ... thinking that you are going to get your mojo back over a shutdown. This is more about the amount of debt” the U.S. is facing, McCarthy said.
Alexander Bolton contributed to this article.
This post was updated at 11:45 a.m.