GOP lines up $6 billion more in cuts

House Republicans on Friday will release a three-week measure to keep the government operating that would cut another $6 billion in spending this year. 

The House proposal should come to a vote Tuesday, and could target additional earmarked funds. 

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Moving a short-term measure to fund the government appears unavoidable, as negotiations among House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House on a longer-term measure are at a stalemate. 

The current measure funding the government expires after March 18, and if Congress does not approve a new measure, the government would shut down. 

Republicans have not revealed the precise cuts in the new short-term continuing resolution, but Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said the GOP is looking at earmarks. 

 The House and Senate have agreed to ban earmarks temporarily, and it would be hard for Senate Democrats to defeat a short-term spending bill that finds most or all of its savings from past earmarks embedded in the current funding level.

 About $10 billion in earmarks were included in the 2010 appropriations bills, according to Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Since funding for 2011 is basically an extension of that funding, this gives House Republicans plenty of targets. The two-week continuing resolution approved last month cut $2.7 billion in earmarked funding.

If approved, the three-week extension would cover two work weeks and one week of House recess.

It’s unclear whether the new bill will include policy riders that will be difficult for Senate Democrats to accept.  

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said that he “hopes” the bill will not contain language de-funding public broadcasting or Planned Parenthood, which were included in a House-approved bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year. 

 “This is simply an extension to give negotiators more time,” he said.

 Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry (R) also said that the short-term continuing resolution should not
include politically divisive policy riders, as this would give the Senate a reason to oppose it on ideological grounds.



“Right now we need to be sending non-politically charged cuts, otherwise you are letting them off the hook - you give them a
political reason to vote against it,” Terry told The Hill. He acknowledged that some of his colleagues may disagree
with that assessment. 

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) also said there has been pressure from some House members to include riders in the short-term bill, but added: “It will be a relatively clean bill, I imagine.” 

NPR is a huge target for Republicans, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has stressed that it should lose all public funding. The year-long resolution approved by the House would eliminate NPR’s public funding. 

The NPR target got larger this week after an NPR executive was caught on camera disparaging conservatives as racists leading to the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller.

But one aide said it is unlikely NPR would be defunded in the short-term bill because it would do nothing to help the GOP reach its $6 billion target, and could start a huge fight with Democrats. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, through which NPR receives grants, is funded two years in advance, and any savings would not be recorded until the next fiscal year by the Congressional Budget Office. 

Rogers said that the GOP will cut $ 2 billion per week in every short-term bill it readies. He called on the Senate to come forward with a new counteroffer to the House measure, as opposed to the Democratic measure that failed in the Senate this week that would have cut about $6.5 billion from this year’s spending. 

 At the $2 billion rate, the GOP can achieve its goal of cutting $61 billion in spending simply by a succession of short-term bills if it continues to approve them the rest of the year.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday sought to pin the blame for the impasse on Senate Democrats.

 “I think it’s time for them to get serious — and they’re not serious, and it’s time to get serious about cutting spending, and the talks are going to continue but they aren’t going to get very far if they don’t get serious about doing what the American people expect them to do,” Boehner told reporters.

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated Thursday he’s ready to compromise, but Democrats also called on Republicans to move from their position during a press conference. The GOP has yet to budge an inch from its demand to cut spending by a total of $61 billion this year. 

Boehner also shot down an idea floated in the Senate to widen the current funding debate to include entitlement spending and tax reform.

 “They don’t seem to be able to understand that the American people want us to cut spending,” he said of Senate Democrats. “To try to muddle the current issue with entitlement programs, and tax increases, that’s what the next budget process is for, and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about that.”


This story was updated to clarify that NPR receives funds through CPB.

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