The head of the conservative Republican Study Committee on Monday became the highest-profile House Republican to oppose a stopgap measure that would keep the government funded through April 8, calling for “swift action” on a longer-term funding measure.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) announced that he will vote against House Republicans’ short-term measure, which would cut $6 billion from many programs already targeted by President Obama for reductions. The move by Jordan could be a sign that other members of the 176-member RSC are not far behind.
“Americans sent us here to deal with big problems in bold ways,” Jordan said in a statement. “We’re borrowing billions of dollars a day, yet Senate Democrats have done little more than wring their hands for the last month. With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces.”
Jordan accused Democrats and the Obama administration of “dithering” on a longer-term spending measure and also called for the inclusion of amendments defunding Planned Parenthood and the national health care law. He also urged Congress to move on to consideration of broader economic concerns such as the fiscal year 2012 budget and the country’s debt ceiling.
The Republican Study Committee comprises 73 percent of the entire House Republican caucus. Of the 87 freshman House Republicans, 75 are members of the RSC.
Last month, when the House was considering a longer-term government funding measure, 128 members of the RSC voted in favor of an amendment sponsored by Jordan that would have cut an additional $22 billion across federal agencies; the measure ultimately fell short of passage, with 90 Republicans – including several members of leadership – voting against it.
Asked Monday about the opposition from members of his party to the current stopgap measure, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) attributed it to lawmakers’ exasperation with the gridlock in Washington.
“There is a lot of frustration about the inability of this place to produce results,” Cantor told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. He also cast the blame on the Senate over the need for continued stopgap measures, noting that the upper chamber has yet to pass its own longer-term funding bill. (The two long-term spending measures put forth by House Republicans and Senate Democrats both fell short in the Senate last week.)
“We have time and again seen the Senate unable to put a bill on the floor that can garner the 60 votes. ... Right now, we are trying to position ourselves so that we can ensure no government shutdown but continue cutting spending and to reach a result that I think that we can get a majority of members to go along with,” Cantor said.
Senate Democrats have seized on the dissent among Republicans, arguing that it shows the party is unwilling to negotiate on a budget compromise.
“We agree that running the government two weeks at a time is not good for anyone, but it is the far right that is preventing any compromise on a long-term budget,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) said in a statement. “These Republicans’ decisions to abandon the three-week proposal negotiated by their own party’s leadership suggests that Tea Party lawmakers are unwilling to accept anything short of the extreme cuts in the House budget, even if it risks a shutdown.”
Schumer said that in order to avert a government shutdown, House Speaker John Bohener (R-Ohio) “should consider leaving the tea party behind and instead seek a consensus in the House among moderate Republicans and a group of Democrats.”