The House will vote Tuesday on a bill to fund the government through Nov. 18, and Republican leaders believe it will pass, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday.
That vote, expected Tuesday afternoon, would provide the formal end to an unexpected standoff that briefly threatened to shut down the federal government.
The issue was a stopgap budget to provide funding when the fiscal year ended last Friday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had said it needed extra money for disaster victims in the last few days of fiscal 2011. Republicans said that needed to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. Democrats didn’t agree.
The drama ended only when FEMA said it didn’t need the money after all. Last week, the Senate passed its version of this stopgap budget. On Tuesday, it will be the House’s turn.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully having a successful vote on that,” Cantor said in a briefing with reporters. “Hopefully we can certainly avoid any kind of shutdown talk this time.”
He said “hopefully” for a reason: In this House, few votes can be predicted with ironclad certainty. Last month, the GOP leadership saw an earlier version of this bill defeated by a coalition of Democrats (who thought it cut too much from the budget) and fiscal-hawk Republicans (who thought it cut too little). After adding budget cuts, Cantor and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) got the bill passed two days later.
The overall level of spending in this stopgap budget has already been agreed to by both parties, in the settlement that ended the debt-ceiling fight in August. Still, some Democrats and even a handful of Republicans are likely to vote no on Tuesday — for the same reasons they voted against the bill last month.
In his weekly briefing with reporters Monday, Cantor also said that President Obama’s jobs bill was dead in the House. He said that, while Obama has insisted on the whole package being passed together, Republicans would pick out pieces they agreed with. He said that included free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.
“This all-or-nothing approach is unreasonable,” Cantor said. “Instead of continuing to maintain this sort of campaign posture, let’s do something to work together.”
Cantor also responded to Obama’s assertion last week that the country had gotten “a little soft.” The majority leader said Obama had it wrong: Americans are as hard-driving and as innovative as ever, but they are hamstrung by new regulations dealing with the environment, financial transactions and health care.
“Our country is not soft, Mr. President,” Cantor said. “Our country is being paralyzed by Washington over-regulation and a Washington-knows-best mentality coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”