By Julian Pecquet - 09/20/11 09:00 PM EDT
The two lawmakers, Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), say the spending measure costs too much and are demanding spending reductions, sources tell The Hill. Last week they sent a letter to House leaders saying they want spending levels for all spending bills to be in line with the budget put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and approved by the House, instead of the debt-ceiling deal.
“We write to remind you that the spending cap for Fiscal Year 2012 included in the debt limit deal is a spending ceiling and not a spending floor,” the lawmakers wrote. “The House simply cannot push the level of discretionary spending for the coming year upwards as its first action after the extended debt ceiling debate.”
“I can’t speak to why the committee isn’t moving the bill forward,” a Flake spokeswoman told The Hill, “but Congressman Flake is opposed to it.”
Lummis’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the congresswoman was a lead sponsor of last week’s letter.
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies has eight Republicans and five Democrats, so the GOP cannot afford to lose two members on a vote that’s not expected to attract any members of the other party. Democrats want much higher spending levels, closer to the $158 billion spending bill that the subcommittee’s Senate counterpart approved along party lines Tuesday.
The House subcommittee was scheduled to take up the bill Sept. 9, but it was indefinitely postponed. An Appropriations Committee staffer at the time said the bill was pulled to avoid conflicting with markup of the transportation spending bill.
During Tuesday’s Senate markup, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate subcommittee, said the House spending bill wasn’t going anywhere because Republicans “couldn’t muster enough votes to pass it, and [have] abandoned all attempts to do so.” A spokeswoman for the House panel responded that Harkin isn’t on the committee, but acknowledged that the markup hasn’t been rescheduled.