Sen. Durbin predicts GOP stop-gap to pass, averting shutdown

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, predicted a House GOP proposal to cut spending by $6 billion over three weeks would pass the upper chamber.

“I think it will pass, in the House this week and later in the Senate,” Durbin said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union, dismissing the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of this week. “It buys us about three weeks and includes cuts which we've offered on the Democratic side in an effort to find a reasonable compromise here.

“I hope that the Republican leadership in the House will see this as a signal of good faith,” he said. 

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The current stop-gap spending measure will expire after March 18. 

The proposal, introduced by House Republicans Friday, would fund the federal government through April 8 and cut $6 billion.

The cuts were suggested just over a week ago by Vice President Joe Biden, making it difficult for Senate Democrats to oppose the House GOP’s latest package.

A Democratic senator told The Hill last week that it is politically difficult for Democrats to vote against short-term spending proposals that cut $4 billion to $6 billion when the federal deficit for 2011 is projected to reach $1.6 trillion.

But Democrats such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, are worried about watching cherished programs suffer “death by a thousand cuts.”


GOP leaders insist they’ll have the votes in the House to move their measure, though some House Republicans have vowed to oppose the new stop-gap, which does not include language banning funds for Planned Parenthood.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he’ll have the votes for passage on Tuesday, when the House is set to take up the measure.

McCarthy and other Republicans continued Sunday to hit President Obama Sunday for not taking leadership in the fight over how much to reduce government spending.

“The Democrats in the Senate haven’t even produced a bill,” said McCarthy, who complained Obama enlisted Vice President Biden to negotiate with Republicans only for Biden to leave the country a few days later.

“How serious are they about solving this problem,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to shut down the government. We want the Democrats to step up. You can’t negotiate by yourself.”

This story was updated at 10:20 a.m.